Monthly Archives: June 2015

ToAD

So I am looking at this from the outside but watching our Pro team come together this week and really racking up some results has been so exciting to watch. We have had ups and downs this year, as any new team would, but with all the guys starting to really hone in on their fitness, some special things are starting to happen.

Coming into ToAD, which is an 11 day long stage race in and around Milwaukee WI, I was a bit nervous. Our top rider, Grant had just come out of Tulsa Tough where he should have been going super strong, saying that he felt tired. He struggled with some of the speed and ferocity of the race. As his coach he was set up to be going there and then carrying it into ToAD. And with all the same teams coming to ToAD I was worried that I had blown it as his coach. The rest of the team struggled as well at Tulsa, and we did not have many finishers let alone results each day. I really didn’t want to go race for almost two weeks and have the same thing happen, or not even have guys who could go the entire length of the series.

Day one of ToAD was in Shorewood WI. A fast 4 corner crib with a quick chicane before the final turn. The guys quickly showed that Tulsa was just a fluke. We did’t have any amazing results, but everyone looked much better from the start. For a lot of the race the team road together and as the finial laps counted down Matt did a great job of hold Shane up in the top 15-20 riders. Unfortunately Shane was bumped with 4 turns to go, almost losing his front wheel. He didn’t get the finish he wanted but I was pleased with what I saw.

The guys have really been coming around and doing a great job of supporting Grant and starting to show the great talents they have. John Pratt has really done an amazing job of doing whatever the team needs of him. The last three days he has had to ride on the back of the field either to follow a wheel he was assigned to, or to wait for Grant to lap the field and then pull him to the front. This is not a normal spot for John and we know that he has struggled with riding back there before. It takes a different set of skills to do that. But John is a smart rider and learns very quickly.

The Second day of ToAD was at East Troy, a small town in the middle of corn fields and cow pastures. The course is 6 turns and only .6 tenths of a mile long. Man times I have see the race just blow apart from the size of the field and the number of turns. Grant was able to quickly bridge to a dangerous move about 40 min into the race. With riders like Dan Holloway, Colton Barrett, and Adam Myerson in there this had to be the move. When Grant reached the group he found Dan and Adam arguing with each other and quickly realized that this was going to fall apart quick. Grant knowing that Colton Barrett was a great break away rider he was able to talk him into continuing on with the break as the others floated back to the field, apparently, completely oblivious to the fact that 2 riders had charged onward. Colton and Grant were quickly out of sight, and we strong enough to wear out a full budget forklift team in the process. Long story short, Grant and Colton hold of the charging field and take 1st (Colton) and 2nd (Grant) with Dan Holloway sprinting for 3rd (actually thought he won……) This not only put Grant on people’s radar, but he helped to put our team on the radar as well.

Matt Kelley had a lot of fears that he would not be up to the task of racing after a first half of the year spent on the road for work. It is not easy but he has showed some amazing determination and strength refusing to give up even when the race looks over for him.

Day 3 was Grafton, a great town with a great atmosphere! The course this year was a slight change from the past, taking out a few turns which increased the speed and fun! The plan was multi leveled today. Follow the wheel of one of the better sprinters in the field, go for primes, win money.

With the speed of this course and then one very tight 90*+ turn gaps started to form in the field and Grant again found himself in the move of the day. It looked like it was not a for sure deal for a few laps as the group was somewhat large. But once it started to rotate the gap started to grow. While Grant was up the road the team was following their assignments and trying to stay ready for the sprint at the end of the race. It was great to see the guys glued to “their” wheel lap after lap. The team was dedicated to the task.

As the laps counted down Astellas lined up on the front in hopes of delivering their sprinter to the line, while not catching the break, who they had a rider in. The gap to the break really started to fall now. Grant was starting to hurt in the break as most of the riders with him seemed to be attacking him quite often. This could totally be my perception however. With a lap to go Grant was about to break and the field was coming extremely fast. As the now broken up break away hit the start finish stretch Grant was off the back with his head down trying to hold on with everything he had. Unfortunately he was caught by two riders at the line, luckily however Shane was right there in the sprint as well and we finished with two in the top 20. (10th and 18th) A good day.

Shane has been able to get in the mix a couple times and unleash his sprint. I am hoping that we can get him into it a few more times before the week is over. The field is for sure not nice to small guys, especially when it is time to line it up for the final kick. But Shane is a scrapper and a fighter. He doesn’t back down and I have yet to hear him say he was scared of someone.

Yesterday was in Waukesha WI, another very nice little town with great bars and restaurants to spend our winnings at. This year’s addition also had a change in route with the town doing some construction to one of the roads. The course was now a 4 corner affair with corner 3 and 4 merging into one long swooping turn. Turn one is another tight over 90* turn into a false flat. This race is about positioning and if you do not know how to ride the turns you can spend too much energy too soon. With all the activity Grant had had the last couple days the guys wanted to keep him protected and try to move him up in the GC. This quickly seemed to go out the window however as Grant found himself in moves again. Shortly after Shane put in a monster pull to bring back a dangerous break, Grant followed a strong move and up the road he went. This time the break lapped the field with just two laps to go. John had done a super human job of waiting for him at the back and did well to get him moved up in time for the finish to end the day in 9th.

Grant is really showing that he is an up and coming talent out there in the crit scene in my opinion. He looks to be riding within himself and at times he looks at ease while others around him are struggling. I think the solo break he was in in Iowa really changed him. He saw how deep he could really go if he pushed himself. What has been another big change for him is that he has a team behind him now at all the big events. It is hard to go at it alone when you are just starting, and the guys on the team are a strong group that have each other’s backs. I am excited to see how the rest of the week works out, not to mention the year, and beyond.

Nick

O’Fallon Grand Prix Road Race

P1/2 Bj Keane

O’Fallon Grand Prix Road Race is 80 miles made up of 4 laps of a ~20 mile loop. There are lots of turns and intersections which makes for fun racing that forces you to corner some and allows for breakaway riders to get out of sight relatively easily. There are a few rollers and a short punchy climb about 1000m from the finish of each lap. We once again had a strong squad of seasoned road racers signed up: Matt Brophy who had two road races wins already this year; Jesse Siemen who was 2nd in Hellbender and 6th at the Burlington RR; Brian Smith two weeks removed from his 2nd place at Hellbender 40+, Robin Zuend who stacked up a pile of RR results on the way to dominating the cat 3 MOBAR competition in 2014, and my main long ride training partner Jason Murphy. I’ve done more 4+ hour rides with Jason than anyone else and I know he has the legs to go the distance in any road race. There were only 20ish riders that started which was very disappointing. It’s a great race on a fun course that isn’t too challenging. Poor attendance is a big reason why we keep losing road races from the racing calendar and as someone who likes road races, it’s frustrating; but I digress.

Lining up at the start, we had our 6 riders, Korte had 3, Dogfish had 3, Cyclery had 3, Big Shark had 2, and there we few solo riders including the TT winner and omnium leader Josh Leibowitz. This wasn’t a race that I was gunning for at the start of the season but when Jesse put me on the spot with a nomination for the team to ride for me in the weekly “what’s the plan?” email, I was quick to accept the nomination. Maplewood Crit was really the only race on the calendar that I had marked for myself and with it likely not happening, I was eager to go for a good result. The plan was pretty straight forward and mirrored what we did at Hellbender a few weeks prior: Send guys up the road with attacks and counter-attacks, force the other teams to work, and ultimately establish a numerical advantage in a break. We had the largest team and the quality so all we had to do was execute the plan.

The race started off with Justin Maciekowicz (Korte) trying a little acceleration from the gun I think to see if the field would perhaps let him leak off the front early. The field all reacted and after Justin took a short pull on the front Murphy quickly countered and got a gap. He dangled just out of reach for a couple miles before the pace in the field slowed to a crawl and he began to slip out of sight still very early in the first lap. There were a few accelerations from guys trying to get off solo to bridge but the team was marking everything which only served to slow things down even more. After one such failed attempted, Matt Brophy attacked and established a gap with Trevor Lister (Cyclery) in tow. Those too dangled for a bit before the field slowed and their advantage over the field began to balloon. The team was sitting pretty now with Murphy still first up the road out of sight and Brophy and Lister off the front and likely to bridge up to Murphy. Near the end of lap one, with Brophy and Lister drifting in and out of sight of the field, we approached a left turn at a tee intersection. Much to our disappointment, Murphy was coming from the opposite direction. After a miscommunication with the corner marshal lead him off course and he had to turn around and backtrack. Luckily, Murphy integrated with the field and was still in the race despite having to forfeit the huge advantage he had developed for nearly an hour solo off the front. Once the field saw Murphy come back, the field once again slowed to a teenaged pace and now the gap to Brophy and Lister started to grow. It wasn’t long before they were out of sight. Lap two was mostly slow paced riding with a few hard attacks by riders trying to get off the front but there was no sustained chase effort. Brian, Robin, and Murphy were like watchdogs grabbing wheels on the front and the guys nearer to the back were doing a good job communicating the sporadic accelerations. It was an ‘all hands on deck’ effort to neutralize the accelerations.

The start of lap three seemed to trigger a sense of urgency in the field. I think everyone was beginning to realize that: 1. Brophy and Lister had a huge gap; 2. Quantum SBR was not going to let anyone attack and get away unmarked; and 3. Time was starting to run out. After a couple of failed attempts by Justin (Korte) to try to organize a chase with Dogfish and Big Shark, he decided to put his head into the wind and lay down some of the TT power he is known for. Justin pulled solo nearly the entire 3rd lap only getting few short relief pulls from his teammate Evan and Jim (Dogfish). The pace went from what seemed like less than 20mph on lap 2 to mid to upper 20’s on lap 3. Justin was drilling it and while this was bad news for Brophy, it was great for the rest of our Team who was able to sit in the draft. Justin’s big effort paid off and Brophy and Lister were back in sight and then eventually absorbed back into the field near the end of the 3rd lap. There was a short respite before Jesse attacked on the punchy climbs at the end of the loop taking a few people with him including myself, Josh Leibowitz, and Brian Dziewa (Korte) and a couple others. My only problem with the course is that the punchy climb and most decisive course feature is also 1000m before the feed zone so if you go hard up the hill and get a gap, then you have to go hard through the feed zone or nullify your effort. Despite stringing out the field Jesse and I opted to sit up through the start finish and allow everyone to get a final feed. We weren’t crawling by any means but we certainly let off the gas. Near the end of the long start/finish stretch as we were approaching the first left turn, Brophy attacked. He had been off the front for basically the entire race and after being in the field just long enough to catch his breath and take a feed, he attacked again! This time he was solo. He quickly gained a 10 second advantage and once again the field stalled. I was watching Justin at this point because I knew that after chasing the whole 3rd lap to catch Brophy, that he likely wasn’t going to just let him ride out of sight again. Sure enough, Justin wiggled between one of his teammates and one of our guys that was sitting on the front and I slid through right behind him. Justin was going pretty hard but once he looked back and saw that he had a gap with only me attached, he seemed to commit and go a little harder. We were about half way up to Brophy when I looked back and saw Jim (Dogfish) chasing up to us. He was dangling behind me for a bit but he looked like he would eventually make the connection. Just when I was considering coming hard around Justin to make it difficult for Jim, I happened to catch a glimpse of Jesse who was now making his way up to Jim. This was great because I knew even ‘Beastmode’ Brophy had to be tired at this point and dealing with Jim and Justin in a 4 man break would have been a handful but with Jesse’s fresh legs, I liked our odds in a 5 man break! Jesse and Jim made contact with Justin and I shortly before we caught Brophy and Jesse rolled up next to me and asked what I wanted him to do. I told him to wait for Justin to pull us up to Brophy, let Brophy get in the draft, but then DRIVE the break to get us out of sight of the field. And that is exactly what Jesse did. We got out of sight and started to rotate; sort of. Jesse, Justin, Jim, and Brophy rotated pretty well with me doing as little as possible. A few times when Brophy needed a rest I would roll through and Jim skipped some pulls trying not to overextend while I got a free ride. I started to talk to Jesse and Brophy as they rotated through to the back. The plan was to attack the final climbs and try to shell Justin and Jim. I was the freshest of the 5 and feeling good on the climb each of the previous laps and Jesse and Brophy are both AWESOME climbers, so I liked our chances. As we rolled down the final little downhill with about 1200m to go, Jesse nailed it and hammered a short flat section, across the concrete bridge, and then came into the base of the final climb HOT. He was crushing it but I was glued to his wheel. Justin responded to the initial acceleration and was in contact with my wheel at the base of the climb but about 3/4th of the way to the top I could feel him coming unglued. At this point, I was verbally whipping Jesse like a horse racing jockey trying to get him to dig as deep as possible; telling him we were dropping Justin and to keeping going! He kept in nailed all the way through the final left turn into the finishing stretch. We looked back shortly after the turn and realized we were home free. Jesse sat up true to his pledge to work for me and let me coast in for the Page win with both of us posting up and enjoying the victory.

It was awesome to reap the reward of such a well execute race by all my teammates and I can’t wait to pay if forward to each of them in the coming races. This was my first race on my new BMC SLR02 and my first win of the season………Coincidence?

 

Good looking podium.

Hellbender – MO State Road Race

Jesse Siemen

I was feeling good coming into this race. It is a course that I like with the right amount of climbing to thin the field, and we we’re bringing a strong team. It was also nice and hot. Just the way I like it. Early on, Murphy got into an early move with one other guy, and Brophy was softening up the field with attack after attack. Ultimately the group came back together until the first time up the hill before the second feed zone. Grant was setting a nice tempo for me to sit on. I checked over m y shoulder and noticed gaps were forming, so I hollered to Grant to go. We rolled over the top with a group of 7. Grant, Robin, and myself along with 3 Arkansas guys and a Momentum dude. We had a long way to go, but were rolling pretty well. Surprisingly, we were caught by the group a bit before the turn to head out onto the second lap. BJ rolled up next to me and said that the chasers were pretty worked over at that point, and I should follow the upcoming Brophy attack. Sure enough, Brophy soon went and I followed.

The two of us rolled off the front and were pulling away from the field. Apparently, I was thinking too clearly at this point because I decided to make the turn to go in instead of out for the next lap! What a momentum killer! I did a U-turn and caught back up to Brophy, but he had to wait a bit and it took a good chunk out of the gap we just worked so hard to achieve. We decided to keep rolling and were pulling away from the field, just the two of us, which was pretty awesome.

Before the first feed zone on the second lap, a chase group of 4 was coming up behind us. We saw Grant with the group and 3 other guys. As they caught up, we were sitting nicely with 3 SBR guys in a 6 man break and only one other Missouri racer. We were working together pretty well at a decent tempo, but not really hammering at all. I was shocked when Nick pulled up and said we had a 5 minute gap on the field. They must have just completely shut it down. We stayed together up until the climb coming back out towards the highway. I attacked up the hill. Brophy and the two Arkansas guys followed. We rolled over the top, but at this point everybody looked in rough shape. Grant took the free ride to the top and we came back together. I made a couple attacks on the stretch coming in along the highway, but was reeled back in both times. I told Grant to attack next to set me up for the counter. He went and took an Arkansas guy with him. This forced Korte to chase. By the time I realized that Grant and the other dude were not coming back, they had a substantial margin without much distance left. Brophy attacked, I followed and jumped again to try to get across. I was making good ground, but came up short. Grant took the win, I came in 3rd, and Brophy 4th overall with a clean sweep of the Missouri podium.

Awesome race and teamwork by everybody! Each guy played a part in that outcome. I really wanted the jersey, but am happy my man, Grant, delivered. Huge thanks to all the support in the feed zones! I hope it’s even hotter and hillier next year.

 

Brian Smith

Hellbender Road Race – Masters 40+…
Mike Rickey, Eric Finks and I met up about an hour before our race to warm up and go over the days plan. The conditions of the day were hot with heat indices at 95 degrees. Factor the weather conditions and the toughest road course of the year and you never know what can happen. It’s hard to prepare for if you haven’t been training in those conditions. Which no one has. With that being said, the end goal was to get Eric the MO State jersey. We decided that I would mark break away attempts within the first 40K (24 miles). Chris Harre (Big Shark), Mark Murawski (Gateway Cycling) and Karl Stover (The Cyclery) are all known for breakaway attempts, so I would pay special attention to them. If I made a break I would do little work. The mindset being that the strong field would bring things back together. The race started fairly mellow, but soon we would drop down into Newburg and then start our first decent set of climbs. The pace continued steady, but once through the first set of climbs the action started. One rider, Larry Marti (Franco Bicycles Racing) a 50+ rider in from Colorado was off the front, but not a threat for the state jersey (you must be a MO resident to win it), so no one was chasing. Finally some fireworks. Chris Harre put in a big effort to create a gap and along came a group of 6 or 7 guys (me included). As planned, I wasn’t working with the group which upsets some riders, but that doesn’t bother me. Shortly everyone would regroup, but now Larry Marti was in sight and Chris Harre made another effort to get across. Chris was just about to join Larry when I realized the peleton wasn’t going to react. The gap was growing bigger and I knew I had to make my move. We were at the 12.5 mile mark of our 52 mile race. I put in a short 850 watt effort to bridge to the two man break and averaged 394 watts for 7/10ths of a mile. Chris and Larry continued to dig with me in tow. We averaged almost 300 watts for the next 5.66 miles. The breakaway was officially set. Chris would continue to ask if I was going to work. He even offered me $50 dollars at one point. I’m not kidding. I stayed the course though. Taking very short pulls at the front. Before I go further, let me say, this is a very hilly course with a couple of really tough climbs. Even ‘sitting on’ so to speak can be hard. There isn’t much drafting up a hill that’s like a wall. We hit the biggest climb of the day at 27.5 miles. It’s 2.36 miles to the very top and the first .8 tenths is ‘the wall’. It hurts!  Going up the climb, the peloton was no where in sight. Once over the top the pace continued nice and steady for several miles. On most days, I could make it through 52 miles on 2 bottles of water, but today I was feeling it. We came across the second feed/water zone at around the 40 mile mark. My team, SBR Quantum has the best feed zone support in racing… teammates, wives, girlfriends, and coaches all give great support. I was so thankful for the ice cold bottle I received in that second feed zone as my legs were cramping some. At this point, there is only 12 miles left to race. With no one in sight, I finally started working with my two breakaway companions. Not taking hard pulls, but taking my fair share. We started the long decent back into Newburg before starting what used to by the long KOM (King of the Mountains) climb back up towards Rolla. Larry was definitely the strongest climber and set his own pace. He gapped Chris and I on the KOM climb and I stayed content on Chris’s wheel or right next to him. We caught Larry quickly at the top and only 5 miles to the finish. Cat and mouse games started at this point. I kept pulling through, but never for very long and Chris kept trying to sit on the back now. Making the second to last right hand turn with only 1 mile to go, I still couldn’t see anyone coming. I now knew I had to try and go for the win. Larry rode away and crossed the finish line 1st winning the 50+ age group, but it was Chris and I to battle it out to be the 40-49 MO state road champion. With about 300 meters to the finish Chris and I were almost standing still. I know Chris is a strong sprinter so I felt my best shot was to go hard at this point. I went for it and Chris was on my wheel. He came around me with about 100 meters to go. I fought hard to overtake him, but fell less than a bike length short at the line. I finished 2nd. Happy with the result, but a little disappointed not to get the state jersey for my buddies. Eric and Mike said the field remained aggressive in the chase. A little surprised the break stuck. Eric finished 4th. They both rode hard and gave it all they had. I really enjoy racing with these guys. Congratulations to the 2015 MO Masters 40+ State Road Champion Chris Harre.
Austin Nathan Austin Brian Eric Mike Eric Feedzone Brian Hellbender 12 podium Jesse Masters Team Mike P12 Podium 3s Podium 40+ The 3s

Tour of Kansas City – Eric Finks

The Tour of KC is a local race for me. Even though it is almost an hour away from the small town of Clinton. Mike Rickey was a welcomed teammate to work with me in the two race venue. Saturdays Cliff drive circuit race was a wet and chilly race. With the wet conditions I was riding near the front while setting in the group as much as possible. There were a few attacks from a past national champion that Rickey and I had agreed on was the favorite to win. Rickey did a great job helping me mark his attacks which were almost ever lap before or after the climb. With a couple laps to go an Atlas rider attacked the group before the climb and he went unmarked. As we went by the start / finish for the bell lap the Atlas rider was still off the front with no one interested in chasing him down. With that being said I start moving up as the national champ was too.  About a mile in the last 3 mile lap I tried to go inside other riders on the switch back turn and my back tire slid out from under me causing me to go down. Luckily all the other riders made it around me and I was able to jump back on the bike. Trying to keep my composure I started to chase back on with 2 miles to go. Luck having it a rider was off the back and helped me chase back. Getting back to the group I quickly rode up to Rickey letting him know I was back in it.    We exchanged a couple words for a plan to finish. With the finish line near the top of the climb I knew the national champ was one to beat. Not knowing the Atlas rider was still off the front. I was on Rickey ‘ s wheel using him for a leadout up the climb. With his awesome leadout I jumped off his wheel chasing the national champ all out to end up 3rd for the day and Rickey was 7th.
After the my haze cleared from the finish I was happy with my result and have to give all the credit to Rickey for yelling at me to go go go after jumping off his wheel for the finish. My fan club from Clinton yelling for me the entire wet and grimy race. Also, my personal photographer for yelling for me and capturing my Finkzilla faces.
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Cobb Park – John Pratt

Cobb Park Criterium:

A warmer day and flatter course brought renewed hope to the SBR Quantum Racing team. I was feeling strong and was told to marshall the front of the 80 rider field. I managed to work myself into several early moves only to be caught as the race progressed. The field had a pretty tenacious grasp on anything goingn off the front. With about 25 minutes to go a dangerous 12 person move took off the front, without an SBR rider up there, I lit out in pursuit. I turned around to see none other than Grant sitting right on my wheel. I decided then and there that my race was only going to last 1 more minute. I buried it on the front stretch ripping down at 35 mph. Once I flicked my elbow to send him around me and up into the break, I dropped to snails pace. In the end, the break came back, but it was great to be able to repay Grant for all the work he did last weekend in Iowa.

Glencoe Grand Prix – John Pratt

Glencoe Grand Prix : It is truly hard to figure on worse cycling conditions than pouring rain. It is impossible to come up with worse than 39 degrees, driving winds, sharp turns, and a huge field in a twilight downpour. So dawned the start of the 2015 Glencoe Grand Prix in the frigid north Chicago region along Lake Michigan. I started about mid-field and in the challenging conditions on the narrow and treacherous Glencoe course, I had one goal: Get to the front as fast as possible. The narrow roads with slick roads made it difficult to keep pace on the turns. I wasn’t comfortable in the field, so I managed to spint up the side during a lull in the pace and rode with Rudy up in the top 5 for a good lap or so. I made it to the front of the race about 12 minutes into the race. I was happy with my positioning, but a little less happy with the way my body was feeling. I knew my days up at the front were numbered, and it was only a matter of a couple of miles before I was panting off the back. The carnage from the race was incredible. By the time I got popped from the main peloton 20 minutes into the race, already more than half the field had been eliminated. I rode as long as I could survive with Luke Momper who was guest riding with the team. He and I both had solid top 40 placements in a really challenging field. It was a good day, but I know more can come over the summer.

 

City Park Criterium – Denver, CO – Sarah Lukas

Finally. While all of the SBR Quantum boys have been out racing every weekend, I finally got my turn to get into a criterium. With a mix of bad weather, new job, and being sick, the sun finally came out and I was able to get my racing legs back out there.

City Park Criterium is a classic in the Denver area. Everyone in Colorado raved about it – and I’m all about a good time! The course was a 2 mile long, fairly sweeping, open course. Typically, my strengths lie in a very tight, technical course, or a course with some slight elevation to increase the suffering. This course, in my opinion, was none of those things. For my first (and kind of late) crit this year, that was just fine. It allowed me to smooth out the kinks, and really remember what it feels like to crushing pedals again and get a feel for tactics. The women’s Pro ½ category was a good size, with pretty much only full teams present. With around 20 women, this was a great group of women to get full tactical practice. Being a solo rider, and recovering from illness, I wanted to race conservatively. The goal of this race was to figure out my fitness, learn the local riders, and get in some good training for some bigger goals and races later this season. I accomplished just that. Attacks were made, chases were sent out, and I was able to get in a great tempo workout with some jumpy sprints out of the corners.

There really isn’t anything too thrilling to the race. The finish came down to a bunch sprint. I sprinted in for 10th. Now…after the fact, I am well aware I could’ve positioned myself much better for that sprint. But it was a learning day, and I didn’t want to put myself in a position where I would be out for longer than I was. I came away pretty happy with how it went. Nothing like a criterium at altitude to whip you into shape!!City Park Crit FullSizeRender 2 FullSizeRender Screen Shot 2015-06-02 at 12.33.06 PM