Racing in Reno

The race weekend started with our arrival and consequent getting lost on our way to our amazing host Sam Bolster (thanks so much!). The next morning, we woke up at the actual right time and rolled out to the Team Time Trial (TTT) course at pretty much the right time. I know this probably not the most relevant thing to put in a race report, but the porta’s were so clean and smelled (pretty) good. No complaints here.  The TTT itself turned out to be a nightmare in itself.  From the gun, my legs felt pretty good until I pulled off which resulted in a fairly large muscle cramp causing me to be dropped by my teammates (sorry guys). I time trialled back on (thanks aero helmet and them slowing down) and got back into the rhythm of the group.  At a certain point, we caught sight of the Sac State team and started hauling banana’s after them.  Then it got weird. We passed the Sac State guys and started approaching the UCSB guys when it became apparent we were all going the wrong direction.  We, as a group of three different teams, turned around and went back to the proper corner and watched as every other team (including our Men’s A’s) totally miss the corner which Reno had absolutely no signage or even a course marshall to mark the sharp right hand turn on a course that none of the Men C’s had ever been on.  Somebody seriously dropped the ball on that one.

Afterwards, we all cruised over to a sandwich shoppe in the lovely downtown area of Reno.  After a large lunch of sandwiches and race planning, we rolled over and watched the non-collegiate races before my race began.  For those unfamiliar with the course, it’s a steep down hill with a sharp fast corner with at the apex, a very slippery piece of painted concrete that caused many crashes throughout the day (link).  After that, the course rolls slightly up, yet with a gigantic head wind, causing each group to take a gigantic hit in speed on every lap.  After the head wind section, there’s a sharp turn to the finish where there’s a steep short hill that just hurts.  My race began in earnest, where the field began stringing out immediately, especially with the corner.  As expected for Men’s C’s, people couldn’t hold wheels forcing me to make huge efforts around them to catch the leaders wheels. Davis pulled some nice little team tactics sending a couple guys up the road on some solo breaks forcing D. Brickner and Stanford to do some chasing.  I sat at the back of the lead group, hoping that I could do some damage in the selected field sprint. Yet it was not be, as the sprinters, who we had pretty much dropped in the final 4 laps, caught back on.  I attempted to re-drop them on an attack with 3 to go, but the headwind and corner played no favors, slowing me down to the point where the Davis train could catch me and counter attack on the final lap.  Altitude hit me pretty hard on the final lap causing me to be nipped at the line for 9th place.

Teamwork!!!

Teamwork!!!

Congrats Alex!!!

Congrats Alex!!!

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Bike Racing Among Giants (Humboldt Race Report)

Only a small contingent of us, Andreas, Olivia and I, made the long 5 hour drive up to Arcata with a combination of Andrea’s and Olvia’s music. I’m sure we listened to Olivia’s cd maybe a close to 100 times, but I can’t confirm that as I slept for a few of those hours. I woke up as we started driving through the magnificent area towards the end of Mendocino County complete with long rivers, huge redwoods, and rolling hills (and cool bridges).

Upon our arrival in Arcata we were greeted by what appears to be the greatest welcoming host contingency in the WCCC. After settling down and maybe a little bit of team bonding/netflix, we may have gotten a smidgeon of sleep (Thanks Stephen for the amazing accommodations).

The next morning at the break of dawn, we woke up and got ready for the nice early morning ITT and the rest of the day to come. I stumbled around, and by some miracle got all my things together and even ate an amazing breakfast of avocado wrapped in pancetta and salami. 10/10 Highly recommend.

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Olivia’s Humboldt race report

Olivia wrote a great race report detailing her three Women’s B wins at the Humboldt State University road race weekend. Unfortunately, we’ve lost her for the rest of the semester, so be sure to read on below. Continue reading

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Crit wizardry and TTT sorcery

The last two race weekends, hosted by Stanford and our very own team, have been good for the Men’s A squad. Out of the six races, we won the two team time trials and two crits while Stanford won both road races. Read on for the play-by-play breakdown.

Reese at the Stanford crit

Reese solo off the front in the winning move of the Stanford crit

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Caltrain advisory: experiencing slight delays and severe fun

The UC Santa Cruz race weekend went as well as our Men’s As could’ve hoped. Connor and Alex were excited to try out their leadout (shoutout to Cal Cycling alum Nick T. for coining the term “Caltrain”) at the crit. But first we had to survive the crazy road race. Read on for the whole story.

Men's A UC Santa Cruz crit

Race meeting following the Men’s A crit

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Fixed-gear glee and Fresno fun

With just one collegiate race happening last weekend, UCLA’s road race, most of us decided to stay closer to home. Beth Newell, a regular at the local Hellyer Velodrome in San Jose, hosted some races on Saturday afternoon to get her ready for the world championships, so Alex and I decided to test our track legs. But first we took our fellow Cal Cyclists to the beginner session in the morning so that they could see what all the hype is about. And after all that, we headed out to Fresno for the Pine Flat Road Race, a tough noncollegiate race with a really beautiful course.

Andreas at the track

Putting in some work at the track (Photo credit: Garrett Lau)

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A SLO start

It’s been awhile since my last race report. There wasn’t much to write home about during the mountain-bike season, and I assume that few people care to read about my ineptness at riding on dirt week after week.

But now with the road season underway, I’m back in my natural habitat. And as the new Men A road captain with just one semester left at Cal, I feel compelled to keep the general public updated with tales from the road, triumphant or not. The first race of the season was the Cal Poly race weekend. Due to unfortunate circumstances, they had to cancel their road race, but we still had fun at the crit and individual time trial.

Andreas at the crit

Here I am at the crit in my default state of looking exhausted. (Photo credit: Sheldon K. Smith)

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Clothing Order!!!

Spring has come and (colleigate) race season is about to begin! In the spirit of this, we’re doing a team clothing order that’s open to anybody and everybody!! If you want an official Cal Cycling Jersey (not some shoddy rip off) add your name and items to  this spreadsheet. In order to get the order out quicker (Ba dum tiss), we’re setting the deadline to be this Friday, February 14th! So order ASAP.  We’re going through the Sport Club Office on this order, so you will be emailed on payment information after Friday so please include your email.

Here is the list of purchasable items:

Arm Warmers:
Short-Finger Gloves:
Cycling Cap:
Men’s Long Sleeve Jersey:

Women’s Basic Bib Shorts:
https://myrecreation.berkeley.edu/index.aspx?view=item&item=16941

Women’s Long Sleeve Jersey:
https://myrecreation.berkeley.edu/index.aspx?view=item&item=16942

Women’s Long Sleeve Wind Jacket:
https://myrecreation.berkeley.edu/index.aspx?view=item&item=16944

Women’s Premium Short Sleeve Jersey:
https://myrecreation.berkeley.edu/index.aspx?view=item&item=16945

Women’s Skinsuit:
https://myrecreation.berkeley.edu/index.aspx?view=item&item=16947

Women’s Basic Short Sleeve Jersey:
https://myrecreation.berkeley.edu/index.aspx?view=item&item=16949

Women’s Long Sleeve Thermal Jacket:
https://myrecreation.berkeley.edu/index.aspx?view=item&item=16952

Women’s Premium Bib Shorts:
https://myrecreation.berkeley.edu/index.aspx?view=item&item=16954

Women’s Shorts:
https://myrecreation.berkeley.edu/index.aspx?view=item&item=16955

Women’s Wind Vest:
https://myrecreation.berkeley.edu/index.aspx?view=item&item=16957

 

Check out the 2013-2014 Jerseys!

Check out the 2013-2014 Jerseys!

If you have any questions, feel free to email connor.benton@gmail.com

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Eliel’s Long-overdue Tripartite Race Report

Race weekend 1: Fresno State

I came into this race with a lot of uncertainty: no idea what to expect from the venue, no idea about course conditions, and no idea how my legs, which hadn’t really ridden much over the summer due to an ill-timed crash and a busy work schedule, would hold up. Thankfully, uncertainty often results in over-preparation, which, in the case of this weekend, turned out to be really necessary!

Driving up to China Peak was awesome: the windy Tollhouse Road on the way in was a blast. I got to the base of the ski hill early Friday afternoon (due to the fact that I don’t have class on Fridays), and took advantage of what was left of a gorgeous afternoon to go and shred some trail. Most of the XC course was already marked, and I was able to knock out a few laps of what seemed to be a long, daunting fire road climb attached to a rather loose, powdery descent that was all kinds of fun. Despite the fact that the base elevation was around 7,000 feet, my lungs, which spent all summer at 7,400 feet and above, seemed not to notice. Stoked on the course, I gave my bike a wipe down, ate some pasta I had made in Berkeley, and, while waiting for the rest of the team to arrive, discovered that there were rooms available in the lodge for 20 dollars a night! Having already paid the 15 dollar camping fee, I figured an extra five bucks for a shower and a bed was well worth it!

The race started early Saturday morning, while the sun was barely peeking over the ridges to the east of the ski hill. Despite the chill, I ditched arm and leg warmers, knowing that the sun on the upper slopes would be hot enough quite soon. I had a great warm up, and, despite not knowing how I was going to stack up against the competition,  felt pretty darn good. Three months of riding intermittently at altitude had taught me not to sprint off the line and burn my lungs out, and so while several riders (I’m looking at you, Mark Tingwald) shot off the line, clearly aiming to turn the race into a hammerfest from the start, I held off trying to chase the initial attack, choosing instead to grab a wheel. I conserved energy until the base of the first major climb, which was quite steep and sort of loose, and then slowly began to ramp up my effort. Sure enough, people were dropping like flies, and 5 minutes into the race, I found myself in the lead. Two minutes later, I had a decent gap on the next racer, and my legs were feeling awesome. Knowing it was only a 16 mile race, I decided to open up as much as I could on the fire road climb at the top of the course, and went into the descent out of the view of the next racer.

However, by the bottom of the descent, it was clear that Steve Pearl, from Humboldt, had made up a ton of time on the downhill. He caught up to me on the climb, and we worked together all the way to the top of the hill, widening our gap on the field. Steve, an amazingly talented rider as well as one of the most humble people I’ve ever met, blasted into the singletrack in front of me, slapping huge dust clouds off of the loose berms and flying through the trees. I gave it everything I had just to hold his wheel, but eventually took a header and tumbled into the forest. In seconds, he was out of sight, and I ended up only seeing him once more, way in the distance on the final climb.

With some energy still left, I gave it everything I had trying to reel Steve back in, but couldn’t catch him. I ended up rolling through the line in second, although thoroughly satisfied with my race and my placing after having not raced and barely ridden all summer. Very nice to feel stoked about racing again!

Chris B. also dominated the Men’s B field, winning the race handily, While Sebastian “Seabass” Ospina finished his first mountain bike race, which is rad!

We did some practice before the afternoon Super D, which was lift-accessed and awesome (tech at the top, fire road bombing on the lower half) and noticed some foreboding clouds blowing in from the west…but the forecast only gave a 20% chance of showers! However, by race time, there were already raindrops falling at the top of the dusty mountain, and everyone was so cold at the summit start that the lift operators opened up the Ski Patrol hut so we could warm up. My race run went fairly well: I wished I was on a slightly bigger bike, as my 29er hardtail was bucking me around quite a bit on the larger rock drops and gardens. I ended up middle-of-the pack…not bad!

Soon, however, the weather rolled in in full force. Thunder, lightning, pouring rain….the works. Absolute insanity! While most of my teammates were camped out in the parking lot, I was really glad to have my room in the lodge and told the guys that they were more than welcome to come in and spend the night dry. Sure enough, around 9, when the rain had turned to freezing sleet, Connor, Chris B, Seabass, and Nick rolled up, looking pretty cold. Chris Clarke, being the BC mountain man that he is, elected to weather the elements in his tent, which, in the morning, was surrounded by a second Noah’s flood and covered in ice (he said he slept fine).

In any case, short track was a frigid and painful affair on a fairly fun but basic course…I ended up fourth, and promptly went up to practice for DH. The course had the same upper portion as the Super D, but this time, instead of dust, riders faced three inches of snow and sticky, fine, slick mud. It was awesome. My hardtail was definitely not the prime choice for said course however, and I managed to bend my chain (literally put a 30 degree kink in it) during my third practice run). So, not only did I run my first A’s downhill on a hardtail 29er, but I ran it without being able to pedal. I came in dead last, but I was happy not to have broken anything in the process!

Big thanks to China Peak, Fresno State for a great weekend and for mailing me my wallet which I left at reg, Cal Cycling and to my parents for the surprise support (and for buying me lunch, much appreciated).

Race Weekend #2: UNR

The theme for this weekend: frigid. Again at altitude, Danny Hertel and I drove up from Berkeley on Friday morning to get a feel for the venue. And it was cold. Colder than a witches tit in a brass bra. Arm warmers, leg warmers, two jerseys, and a vest. But the course was awesome!

We were stoked to be in Tahoe: Danny was so stoked that he took a video Snapchat with his phone as soon as the lake came into view on 267, shouting TAHOOOOOOOOE at the top of his voice and almost causing me to crash the car. I love riding in the Tahoe area, and Sky Tavern, which lies a little below Mt Rose ski area on the eastern slope of the Sierras, was almost as great as the riding in my Meyers and South Lake summer stomping grounds. We rode a lap of the XC, which again had a ton of climbing and a relatively fast, vertical descent, and practiced some Dual Slalom on the newly build course (which was absolutely awesome, although the 5 foot step down between two trees proved too daunting for me). We headed back to our accommodations in Truckee and, being two earth science majors, admired the awesome basin in range formations to the east (Danny again Snapchatted, this time yelling BASIINNN ANNND RANNNNGEEEE).

Connor’s cabin that we were staying in was 50 shades of awesome. Right in Tahoe Donner, the place was beautiful, and an ideal place to stay for a race weekend. Thank you Benton Family for letting us use your house for the weekend!

The following morning’s XC didn’t go as well as I’d hoped. My legs just weren’t responding after the first lap, and I was dragging ass up the second, long fireroad climb. I made up time every descent despite crashing on the second lap, but lost a place on each of the three times up the climb, eventually coming in 7th. Not bad, but not great. Then it was time for dual slalom. I dared to huck the step down during practice, and it was my first and last time: I cased so hard I thought I broke the bike (a borrowed Blur LT…Offie, if you read this, thank you for the bike, and sorry for smacking your bottom bracket on some dirt). I didn’t try it again after that, and was the only A’s rider to do so, leaving me with a qualifying time that wasn’t pretty. Cest la vie…guess I need to get more comfortable in the air.

Short track was abominably cold. I ended up wearing a base layer and a jersey under a skinsuit, and was still chilled to the bone the whole time. The course was purely sadistic…my legs exploded in the first three laps and I fell back to 7th, where I stayed for pretty much the whole race. No fun, but kudos to the Berkeley squad for a strong showing (14 racers total, and 4 women! WOOOOT!) and a really fun weekend. And, congrats to Chris Clarke for his first (of many to come) XC win in the US! Great ride.

Race Weekend #3: Parkfield

Parkfield will always have a special place in my heart, for many reasons. This year was just another batch of good memories to lay upon the solid foundation of craziness that was my first experience with the race.

This year, I went to Parkfield with a hefty dose of antibiotics in my system and a severe lack of fitness: right after UNR, I noticed a strange bump on my quad. I thought nothing of it until the following morning, when the bump was now a pustule the size of a pencil eraser, surrounded by a raised red area the size of my palm. Cause for concern. I went to the school clinic and was told that I had been bitten by a spider of some sort, possibly a brown recluse, and the bite had gotten infected! Ew. Long story short, I picked up some serious skin antibiotics from the pharmacy and am on the road to recovery. I was cleared to race for the weekend, so I was stoked.

Again, I arrived fairly early at the venue, picking a great spot on the ridge overlooking the dual slalom course. It was just about perfect, except for a couple tarantulas that freaked me the f*ck out while I was changing into my kit, and I had my camp up and running in minutes. My Honda Element doubles as transportation and the best car camping bed ever, and I have my camping system down to a science.

The pre-ride was pretty eventful, complete with me being chased by a pack of wild piglets and having a staredown with a fully grown Javelina boar, with tusks the size of my fingers. Needless to say I turned around and booked out of there. I saw the Javelinas again that night, when they had completely surrounded my car and camp and were rustling for food for about an hour. I almost peed myself…pigs can be terrifying.

Again, I was the only rider to make it up Parkfield’s infamous start hill without getting out of my pedals, although once again I was beaten to the top by racers on foot. Whatever, I get stylepoints. Despite not having ridden for nearly two weeks, I was suprised by my fitness and ability to hang with the pack for the first bits of trail! However, as soon as we hit the first of two major climbs in the long, single 24 mile loop, I felt the effects of my lack of training. Out the back I went, struggling to keep the pedals turning. I was fully imploded by the second climb, upon which Andreas flew by me up the hill in a blue and yellow blur. Go man go! It was all I could do to stay on the bike and finish the race, which I did, and immediately head to the port-o-john to relieve my antibiotic-ridden intestines. Nice imagery, right?

Dual slalom was fun, as always. This course was definitely more technically manageable for me, and I felt really smooth throughout. Despite that, I missed qualifying for the head-to-heads, and so instead enjoyed a long, perfect afternoon watching people enjoy their beverages, slap themselves into berms, and have a ton of fun.

The same theme of beverages, falling off bikes, and fun continued well into the evening as people enjoyed all that Parkfield has to offer. The Disco DeLorean was as rad as ever (hi-five if you get that reference) and, although I turned in early, Parkfield didn’t fail to disappoint.

The short track at Parkfield is a really fun course, and my legs were ready and raring to go on Sunday morning. I got a great warm up in, and had an awesome start, getting the holeshot and leading the first bit of the race. Five minutes in, Bryan Duke and Will Curtis caught me and and grabbed Will’s wheel, trying hard to stay on the pace. About ten minutes later, however, as we crossed a little creek crossing for the umpteenth time, my shoe came out of my cleat and my foot slapped my pedal. This must have had some bad effect, because on my next downshift, my rear derailleur thwacked into the smallest cog and my chain jammed between my frame and little ring in the front. The cable had completely slipped, and I had to get off my bike and fix ‘er up. Luckily I had brought a multitool, and was able to manhandle the cable back into a passable position. Unfortunately, by the time this happened, I was already almost a lap off the leaders, and in no physical position to chase them down. So, another crappy result, but an enjoyable race nonetheless.

After some heckling and cheering, I packed up camp, headed north, stopped for dinner with the parents at home, and finished some homework in Berkeley. In general, a very solid weekend, and a reminder that even two weeks without riding can really screw your fitness!

Also had Chipotle for the first time in a long time on the drive back, and that place is BOMB! Quality recovery food for cheap and quick.

Only a few more weeks until I get to ride my 2014 Marin CXR 29er, and I am already getting giddy just thinking about it! Thank you Marin Bikes for your support this season, we really appreciate it.

That’s all for now folks!

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Reno MTB race report by Chris B.

I’ve got a special treat this week. We’ve finally got a race report from someone besides myself, namely Chris B. Below you’ll find his take on the University of Nevada, Reno mountain-bike weekend. Continue reading

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