Brendan Larkin Wins Stanford Road Race – Report

Photo by Yao Saeturn

Photo by Yao Saeturn

When I crossed the finish line first at the Stanford road race with enough time to sit up and take in the moment, I hadn’t been the strongest rider for the past three hours. That is the frustrating beauty of cycling, the strongest doesn’t always win, the smartest and the one with a little (or a lot) of luck usually gets to salute.

I rolled away in the first mile with a Stanford rider and the pack sat back for what sounded like a tempo ride. Another Stanford guy bridged with the lone Santa Barbara guy in the race. It was breakaway as usual for the next few hours. I chose to lead up the climbs to set the pace and let the rest work more on descents and flat roads. I really started hiding from the wind on the hideous head wind section once we had established a 7 minute lead.

With approximately twenty miles to go we dropped the SB rider. I was initially pleased, but this lead to a barrage of attacks from the Stanford duo. I actually welcomed these attacks, because they didn’t put me in trouble and I could refuse to work after they began. One attack almost got me when both riders got up the rode, but I grit my teeth and latched back on the group. (rule #1 of breakaways, never get dropped)

Coming into the finish, the primarily downhill and tailwind ten miles made closing attacks easy. We got an update from the moto-ref that a chase group was beginning to gain on us, so we started to work together again to make the break survive. I continued to sit on the most, with one Stanford kid doing the lion’s share of the work and his teammate appearing to be queuing up for the sprint.

I seemingly ruined the parade for the Stanford twosome when I attacked on the final hill with 1.5 miles to go. I was certain that one Stanford rider would chase, and the other would pass me, leaving me with a respectable 2nd. However, once I realized that I actually had a chance, the final moments of suffering were easy. With a football field length to go, I recognized that I had struck the lethal blow and soft pedaled across the line.

I don’t think my attack or tactics would have a high success rate over time, but sometimes everything just falls in place and that is what makes cycling a beautiful sport.

Thanks so much for everyone’s support this weekend and thanks to boss man John Tomlinson for putting some unwarranted faith in me. Let’s keep notching up the W’s.

Fight On!

Brendan Larkin

2012 Parkfield XC Race Report – Karl Tingwald 10th Men’s A

Photo by Will Scheel

Mountain bike season is here in the WCCC. My fling with cycling began with riding mountain bikes in the NICA NorCal league, so racing MTB has always held a special place in my heart.

Parkfield is always a highlight of the season – it’s the oldest MTB race in Central California and the pixie bike races on Saturday night are a WCCC classic. Virginia and I arrived in the afternoon and did a pre-ride of the singletrack portion of the course. As usual the trails were extremely dry, but not too loose.

This year the race began with a lap around camp before heading up the infamous hike-a-bike first pitch. I didn’t start well and found myself about 2/3 of the way back in the pack once through camp and on to the hill. Knowing the terrain to come, I made an effort to advance on the rolling climbs leading to the cow trail singletrack. I managed to pass 4-5 riders here, and continued my push into the first main climb. Again, I passed a few riders and tried my best to stay with a group that included Ben from Davis and a few Cal Poly riders.

I ended up falling back a bit on the descent (no surprise there) and was alone by the time the A’s route diverged from the main course. The A’s course included an extra five mile fireroad climb followed by a very hairy descent. I dug in and suffered up the climb – it really never seemed to end – passing two riders on the way to the spectacular summit. I lost one spot to Brian from Cal Poly on the way down to the finish but ended up with 10th place out of 24 starters. Pretty happy with that for my first A’s race!

The MTB season will continue with Reno, Humbolt and Chico before Nationals, and Berkeley, Santa Barbera and Fresno after. Stay tuned for more updates and race reports!

 

 

Justin Eagleton – 3rd Road Race, 4th Crit – Men’s Cs, UC Berkeley

Road Race:

After being in rainy northern California and checking the weather just about everyday during the week, I was relieved to get to the race and see partly cloudy skies. The course was still wet, but everyone said it wasn’t too technical so it shouldn’t matter (and by my last lap it had dried out anyways). As the group lined up, I though that the forecast might have been a deterrent as the field was a bit smaller then usual. The pack got rolling and a rider went pretty hard right from the start, but the pace cooled down quickly enough as we rolled around the course. That is, until the (for me) unexpected right turn up the Mc Ewen wall,  a relatively short but burningly steep climb about 2/3 of the way through the 10 mile lap. At some point there or shortly after, a Cal rider slipped ahead of the pack and would manage to stay away on a solo break for the entire race.

Justin Eagleton riding hard for the USC Cycling Team.

I stayed with the pack, which after the Mc Ewen climb, on lap 2 dwindled to only about 9 or so riders. While some people tried to initiate a chase on the break away rider, no one was really committed, and two slightly technical turns on the backside of the course only served as an advantage for him to keep a small but persistent gap. I knew the last time up the wall was going to be one of the most decisive parts of the race, so I tried to push as hard as possible while still keeping enough in the tank for the more gradual up hill finish. The group was no longer together by this point and I managed to get to the top and stay on the wheel of a Davis rider on the small descent before the final short climb up to the finish line. When I turned onto the final uphill stretch I saw that there was another Davis rider who had managed to pull away, so I knew at this point it was going to be a battle for 3rd place with the rider behind me. We played the game, but I managed to just beat him out on an uphill sprint to take 3rd. (Or perhaps he decided his teammate already got second and was just being nice J, either way). While it was definitely painful, it turned out to be a fun day of racing and I was glad the weather gods decided to play along after a week of rain.

Criterium:

Once again, when I got to the course adjacent to the Cal campus, I was relieved that it was not raining and that the road was dry (although it was unusually cold). I was hoping that the uphill half of the ½-up-½-down course would play more in my favor then previous crits this season. As the race started, I took it easy to see how the field would react to the difficult 3rd corner at the bottom of the down hill.  Thankfully the early leaders established a good line and people were being smart and singling up. I stayed in the pack pretty much the whole time, except for one lap when the course marshal held up a 3, then 2, then 1. The pack was still moving pretty slow so I decided to go on a break, but when there was no bell, and no chase I realized that he had been holding another hand drawn 1 to make it actually a count down from 13 (used to them staring from 8… now I know I guess). Oh well. I managed to sit towards the back and recover before getting into a good position by the last lap. The uphill finish definitely played to my advantage and I was able to sprint into 4th: my best crit result this season. So, despite the cold, it was a pretty good day on a surprisingly fun course.

Raquel Orellana – 1st place – Women’s Cs, UC Berkeley Road Race

She got a new look for her great performance. She looks great in red!

Two topics dominated the conversation as we drove up to UC Berkeley: the brutal weather forecast for the weekend and the amount of climbing we’d have to do on Saturday’s Road Race.

On Saturday morning, we were pleasantly surprised by the weather: it was freezing, but at least it wasn’t raining.  The climb, on the other hand, was also a surprise, but certainly not a pleasant one.

Women’s Cs and Women’s Bs were racing together and were required to do three 10 mile laps, each with 1,100 ft of climbing.  I didn’t do a very good job of warming up before the race, so my legs started hurting as soon as I started working up the course’s initial steady climb.  Half jokingly and half wishfully, I asked a UC Berkeley girl if this was the difficult climb everybody talked about.  She just sort of smirked and didn’t answer.

After that first climb came a long descent, followed by rolling hills.  And then, when my Garmin said we had done just over 6.5 miles, I saw someone directing us to a sharp turn.  And there it was: the infamous climb.  More like a wall really, a long wall.

At this point, the group had spread out.  I estimated that I was in the second half of it, but had no idea how many of the riders ahead of me were Cs.  The climb was much steeper than I expected but I kept pushing hard because I figured it couldn’t last very long.  I was wrong.  It was very long, but I was able to pass several of the riders, including two UC Davis girls at the very end of the climb.

As I started the second lap, however, the two Davis girls, who had started working together, managed to catch up with me and  eventually dropped me.  I tried my best to keep up, but descents are not my strength.  I rode on my own for a while until I reached the steep climb.  To my surprise, towards the end of the climb I had the two UC Davis girls within eyesight again.

I wasn’t able to catch up with them, and during the descent of the third lap, they increased the distance again.  As I approached the climb, I started to doubt whether I had enough energy to do it a third time.  But I ate half a Power Bar and told myself that I at least had to try.

The bar gave me a boost, and once again I managed to get close to the Davis girls.  I noticed that they were no longer side by side, and realized that it was my chance to beat at least one of them.  I caught up with and passed her and then followed the other one to the end.

I crossed the finish line and stopped next to a few of my teammates who where standing there watching.  I was extremely tired and glad to have finished, so when one of my teammates said he thought I was the first of the Women’s Cs to come in, I wasn’t really paying attention.  I was satisfied with my hard work and with my continued effort until the end.

I was about to jump in the car, but decided it was worth going to the finish line to try to figure out my results.  “735?  I have you down as first.”

By the way, if you’re in the LA Area, please join our team and others in the community this Sunday for the Trojan Cycling Benefit Ride.

Virginia Solomon – 4th WA Road Race

Sunday started off damp and cold, and didn’t get much better
throughout the day. I notoriously overdress, so tried to balance that
tendency with the fact that it really was pretty cold. Thankfully
DeFeet wool is perfect for both this kind of weather, and my kind of
indecision! Sisquoc isn’t a particularly climby course. The main climb
is neither long, nor steep, nor close enough to the finish to be
decisive. Though I’ve been dropped there before. I decided my strategy
was to stay with the group on the climb and then see what I could do
to push it through the rollers to the finish, if the group was still
together. The two Davis women rode off on the first climb (to finish
minutes ahead of us – the ref stopped giving us updates as they got on
towards 5 minutes ahead) and the other 6 of us decided to make it our
race and let them be. The field was 2 Stanfords, and then 1 each
CPSLO, HSU, and USU, and me. The next two and a half laps we spent
rotating at a decent tempo, keeping an eye on each other on the climb.
With 2 racers in our group, we knew that Stanford was going to try
something the last time up, and sure enough, they sent their climber
off from the base. I stuck with her about halfway up the steepest bit
and then decided the better plan would be to let her go and work with
everyone else to pick her back up through the rollers (where she was
having some trouble the previous laps), rather than maybe blow
sticking with someone more gifted than I when the road tilts up! USU,
SLO, and I worked to bring her back, with Eileen from Stanford sitting
on and making us chase the extra bike length to get past her but
thankfully being cool and not actively blocking our way to come
through and take our turns. Kat from SLO did a MONSTER pull to finally
bring Marissa all the way back on the descent into the finish, and I
heard her yelling as Eileen countered and bombed by me into the rise
to the finish. I jumped and was closing but my legs just ran out of
gas and I couldn’t seal the deal and rolled in for 4th. I was happy
with how I was able to handle the climbs on the course, but it seems
to be a pattern that I don’t do a very good job of staying on wheels
once sprints start, which then loses me the advantage of my jump, so
that is my homework for next week – finding and staying on the wheel
til it works for my sprint.

Virginia Solomon – 5th WA Crit and 3rd W¾ Crit

Santa Barbara presented us with a couple of novel situations – we were racing close to home, and the crit was on a Saturday instead of a Sunday, as is normal in the WCCC. I was a bit nervous about how this would unfold, as crits tend to be where I do better and I typically have better legs the second day of a weekend. But with some confidence that my form was starting to come back around, I set off Friday evening worrying more about whether Georgia* would get along with our host family’s dog Emma, than about anything to do with bikes.**

Virginia Solomon pedaling hard at the UC Santa Barbara Crit

I made a concerted effort to get my legs a good warm up for the first crit, knowing that I didn’t have a hard race in them from the day before. A slightly smaller group of us lined up to race, with only a couple from the Stanford contingent and no one representing Berkeley. Our race got off to a decent start, with most of us content to cover Davis attacks and I got in on a few prime points. I was able to recover from them, so knew I was feeling ok. At one point one of the Davis women got off the front and we let her dangle there for a while, figuring that that was better than having to continue to chase Davis attacks down, but she was brought back with the 5th of 6 primes. I got off the front with her again later, and picked up 2nd on the 6th prime, but I couldn’t hold it and she just rode away from me. We brought her back shortly thereafter, and the other Davis rider made the move that stuck. I tried to go with it, but might have put in too much too late, and then could only pull off 5th in what ended up being a real drag race of a sprint. Though that might not actually have made much of a difference – drag races are not my sprinting forte!

The ¾ crit in the afternoon went off about an hour after our collegiate crit ended. My Metromint teammate and I got changed into our AWESOME blue dots, and decided on a strategy that gave us enough flexibility to read the race, but also some concrete tasks towards the finish. A bit into the race, I heard a ping as someone went into my rear wheel, and then I couldn’t get my bike to shift below my 19, which is pretty small when paired with a 50! I snuck into the pit but we couldn’t fix it, and I jumped back in the next lap and proceeded to race at 50/19. Turns out I can spin in the 110s… The plan was for me to help my teammate grab some upgrade points, but with 3 to go, I couldn’t find her. With her out of the race, it was up to me to see what I could do. In my 19. The race had been a mix of some quite aggressive women (hats off to UCLA, who was off the front for the first half of the race it seemed, UCSC, a woman on Universal Sports from Oregon, and of course my teammate) and then lots of people who were happy to sit in or make moves that they thought were attacks but really just projected that they were moving up to drag the pack around for a bit. Nina from UCLA went off again with 1 lap to go, and we pulled her back just before corner 4. It was a close call, as the woman who finished her off almost blocked me coming through the corner. Throughout the race there were 3 women who it seemed I needed to watch, Christine from UCSC and the OR woman, and then a junior who it turns out got her cat 3 upgrade with this race. Congrats! The sprint for this race was MUCH shorter than the collegiate, which is great because there’s only so much drag racing you can do in a 19. I ended up 3rd, behind OR woman and Christine, which I’m happy with. It was a good race. There were enough aggressive women to make it fun, and it was nice to be in a slightly bigger field than the last few collegiate races.

* Georgia is my dog, and the team’s pet

** For the record, Georgia and Emma got along swimmingly!

Karl Tingwald – 2nd Place UCSB Men’s B Road Race Report


Karl Tingwald (Men's Bs)- UCSB Crit

It’s never a race weekend without me not being ready when Justin comes by to pick me up. Without avail, we departed at 1:30pm instead of the scheduled 1:00pm. After twenty minutes of sitting still on the linear parking lot known as 405 North, we made our way out to Carter’s gorgeous house near Santa Barbera.

Unlike most of the WCCC race weekends, SB’s crit is on Saturday – an arrangement I prefer. The B’s crit followed my usual pattern – spending too much time eating wind off the front, then not positioning myself well on the last few laps and ending up in the mid 20’s place-wise. Should probably work on that.

The 4’s crit was much more fun, though – I tried to avoid all the mistakes I made earlier. I spent significantly less time on the front, but stayed about 10th wheel for most of the race. I knew Mike Valdez was going to lead the Irvine guys out, so I positioned myself near them with two laps to go. After the last 90 degree turn, I was positioned about 18 inches left from the curb, ready to go for the field sprint and fourth wheel. About 500m from the line, right as I was about to sprint in earnest, a rider comes up to my right and tangles pedals with me momentarily. I nearly fell left and took out the pack (thankfully I was able to recover). Unfazed, he continued on to win. I sat up, shaking. This is why I don’t race E4. Winning twenty bucks is not worth crashing at 30mph to me.

Saturday night we chilled at Carter’s house and made pasta with italian sausage, sauteed vegetables and tomato sauce for dinner. After catching up on the week’s pro racing at Paris-Nice and watching a bit of Chappelle Show we headed off to bed.

With rain in the forecast, we skipped the team time trial and drove up to Santa Maria with a tentative outlook on racing at all. We finally pulled out the cold weather gear, and Jim, Sean and I registered for the race.

The Santa Barbara course is about 12 miles long, with one steep wall-type climb and one extended climb about 3/4 through the lap. These two hills plus two sharp turns means that breakaways usually do pretty well on this course – as such, I planned to ride most of the day in a breakaway.

Off the line, the pack stayed together for the first 15 minutes before David Luong from UCLA shot off the front. The group let him hang for a while, but after the first time around the climb, Kyle Ireton and I found ourselves near the front of the pack and as soon as Kyle jumped to bridge up with David, I was right on his wheel. John Herr from UCSB and a SCU rider bridged up as well, and we formed the breakaway that would end up sticking.

We quickly formed an effective pace line and took strong, short pulls for the entirety of two laps. The motor official told us at one point that we had two minutes on the field, so we turned down the pace on the climb on lap 3. At that point, a Davis rider bridged up and joined us. We also learned that the pack had closed the gap down to 30 seconds. We began to cook again through the start/finish area and miraculously held the break through to the finish.

With quite a bit of juice still left in my legs, I contemplated breaking off from the group on the last climb and soloing to the finish. The Davis rider suggested we keep the group together, so the jockeying for positioning didn’t really happen until about 800m from the finish. Screaming down the descent, I sat glued to the Davis rider’s wheel (whom I had correctly judged to be the rider with the most energy left in the break) and prepared to sprint. Coming to the line, the Davis rider and I were gunning it, and I pulled out into the wind just a moment too early. He beat me by about a bike length, and I finished with Second Place. Kyle and David finished just a moment later, taking Third and Fourth, respectively.

This road race was an incredible experience, and the work we all put into the break was epic. Everyone else who gritted their teeth for an hour and a half to make it survive deserves a medal. I look forward to racing again next week at Berkeley.