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