Saturday, January 16, 2016

CX nationals , Asheville, N.C.

Its a long way to go for a CX race-Asheville N.C. to be exact but this is the nationals. This six day event is what we save our coins for all season in hopes of some medals and some great exposure for the sponsors and the team. The fields are the largest and highest quality we will see in the 5 months that make up cyclocross . Not all the folks that had planned to come to Asheville were able to make the trip as sickness and logistics got in the way. This said, we fielded a very strong team that got on the podium as much or more than any nationals in the 10 years that this team has existed and there could have even been more.


 Arriving very ate Monday night after a delay in Chicago , our hosts Eric and  Laura were ready for us with a warm place to call home base for the next few days. Other arrivals would be put in a house down the road hosted by Josh and Jessica. These two households were extremely helpful and generous to our team and our situation in Asheville was excellent in location and comforts. From these two houses we would launch our assault on the biggest races of the year.
 First to get on the course was Kelly Chang who opted to do the 35+ women non-championship event to get used to the course at race pace. Kelly said before the race that she would just take it easy . This was not the case and she got caught up in the frenzy and rode to 9th place.
 The next day there were the Masters championship events and Ellen Sherrill didn't think much of her chances to get on the podium in the women's 35-39 race but she made it finishing in 4th place with a show of determination. Kelly Chang rode next in the women's 45-49 race and had a very respectable result finishing in 11th place.
 Next to ride was Kailin Waterman in the men's 35-39 race.The field was huge and Kailin didn't get a good call up. the traffic made it very difficult to move up and he had to settle for 31st. He would ride stronger in the coming days.
 For 2016 the nationals added a couple events. One of them was the relay, a race of four person teams. We recruited Ben Gomez-Villafane to finish the four with Campbell Steers, Max Judelson and Kailin Waterman. The team would finish 4th out of 20 teams and get the podium and medals. Early Friday morning I went down to the course with Michael Landry who rides for the team but this day he was riding for Yale in the collegiate division II race. ( He is pictured in the very first photo at the top) Michael is a graduate student at Yale but in his teens he raced on the Lobster team as a junior. After an absence of 7-8 years from the sport he decided to jump back in last summer. The result is his 6th pace in the nationals, quite a jump from being a category 5 racer just a few months ago. Next season I think that the east coast riders will take him very seriously.
 Single speed CX racing has been at the core of this team's activities for nearly a decade and the team has always excelled. In the men's event we were fortunate to have Max Judelson starting near the front but Kailin Waterman was a few rows back and Brendan Lehman was seeded near the very back of about 140 riders, the largest field of the week. All three of these riders rode really well with Max getting 5th and the podium, Brendan passing 108 riders to finish 25th and Kailin riding well on a borrowed bike to finish 28th.



In the women's single speed race we had a record of three riders and they would all ride into the top-20. Ellen Sherrill was fatigued from her race earlier but had a good starting position as she had been on the podium in single speed the three previous years. Kelly Chang was a couple rows back and Campbell Steers had to start at the back of the field. It only took a half a lap for Campbell to ride in into the top-10 and another lap to ride into 5th. She was not able to hold onto that spot-this being her first nationals she didn't have the experience to judge the length of the race . She still made it to 7th and will have a front row start next year. Ellen Sherrill suffered mightily in about 9th until she saw that Campbell had been overtaken by another rider. She found some strength to turn it up and close on 5th place. She almost got there , only 10 seconds back. Kelly Chang would have one of her best race performances at the nationals riding strong in the last lap to move up to 18th.


A newer event that was added a few years ago, the 'Industry race' culled some of the very best riders from the bicycle business. There were some elite riders in both the men's and women's races. Campbell Steers once again rode from the back but this time she kept her speed to the end getting the silver medal and second place in a huge field.
 This week away from home could have been just another day at the office-another road trip to the races not unlike many in the past-but this trip turned out to be special. The dinners at the host houses and later at the house on Joe Jenkins road that we rented were really the best. We tried to repay our hosts and supporters with great food and good times. I think that we did o.k. , carrying on a team tradition that goes back nearly a decade. Kailin , Brendan and Andrew Juiliano did excellent work in shopping, prepping and cooking these large dinners. Nobody went away hungry and we were able to do the gluten-free and vegan thing as well.
 There seems to be a tradition of dancing with a lot of the team folks who should have been way too tired to dance. This was not the case and they out-danced just about every other poor fool out there on the dance floors. Good times for sure.
 As the last few days were upon us there was one more event for the team to get ready for-the elite men's race. This year none of our women's team would ride in the elite race but we did have Max Judelson and Andrew Juiliano in the men's race. Max had ridden in two events already and it would possibly be a hindrance , along with his starting position. Andrew had fresh legs and a better starting position , although he had a 9 hour flight delay and had to sleep in the airport just two days before his race.
 In spite of being blocked after the start and being near the back Andrew rode very strong and up to the action. He was almost in the top-20 when he finished , beating most of the elite field winding up 24th. Max had a rougher go of it, initially riding up near Andrew but fading in the end. He would finish in 48th but all in all, this was both Andrew's and Max's best nationals to date.
 One thing for sure, Asheville has some great food. This photo is of the very finest bacon on the face of the earth. I am not joking.........we are all about bacon ( with the exceptions of the vegans on the team ) but this bacon set the mark for all future bacon to measure up to. This was the gold standard here.
 Here's a blurry picture of Andrew at the barriers in the elite race. As I was in the pit during his race I was not able to be much of a photographer. There's a video of the elite race at Cyclocross Magazine and you can see both Max and Andrew in action.
 For the elite race Campbell found some proper mud boots-these will no doubt find their way to the next muddy races.
The day finally came when we had to say goodbye to Joe Jenkins road, the Biltmore estates where the race had been held and of course our hosts and all the friends we made over the week. All along the course in every race we took part in there were folks we didn't know yelling "Go Rock Lobster !". Our reputation seems to have preceded us again.....good to know that we have a seriously big fan club wherever we go. I would finish a lowly 40th in the master men's 60-64 race but even on the last lap I heard people all over the course yelling "Go Rock Lobster ".

I would like to that our sponsors who make it so Rock Lobster really can "Go !" :

Voler custom sports apparel
Clif Bar
HRS- Larry and Karen Bullard
Bob's Red Mill
Chris King precision
Enve Composites
Paul Component engineering
Buckler Embrocation
Go Westy !
Jeff Traugott guitar company
Greg Foy construction

A special thanks to Bonny Doon airport, L.L.C. for hosting our race that funded this trip and others
also, thanks to all on the team that volunteered at the event to make it happen
Sarah and Matt for our unique kit design

A big thanks to our asheville hosts Eric, Laura, Josh and Jessica- Laura especially for the 'Rock Lobster mugs that she crafted herself -and to Cane Creek for letting us use the tent at the venue and for buying a ton of groceries for one of our big dinners. We will show you guys the same hospitality if and when you come west.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Nor-Cal district championships-Cal Fire, Bonny Doon

 This race draws most of the best of Nor-Cal CX racers, even if the course is well off the beaten track.The fields were pretty big and the course was one of the bumpiest, most punishing tracks of the year. Some fared well in spite of the hammering the body and bike took during the race. Since the weather had been dry for most of the month there was no mud anywhere on the course and plenty of pinch flats were had.
 In the women's A race Ellen Sherrill rode strongly to get 3rd and the district bronze medal. Campbell steers started strongly but suffered in the second half of the race to finish 7th.

 Another casualty of the race was Justin Abbott, starting with the lead group but having to withdraw after 5 laps with a back injury.
 Max Judelson was the strongest of the team riding with the leader until late in the race and hanging onto 2nd place, outwitting a strong chase group. Kaitlin Waterman was one of the riders getting stronger as the race progressed , finishing 18th.
 Brendan Lehman rode the single speed A race as preparation for the nationals and in spite of two bike changes and a long run after a flat tire rode to 4th on the day and a bronze district medal.
 Finshing 15th on the day after a flat tire and a slow wheel change, Scott Junker still had enough points to garner 5th overall in the series in the single speed A race.
In master's racing the fields were some of the biggest of the season. Ken Dick had another strong ride int eh 35 A race coming in 11th. In the 45 B race Frank Kalcic led the team standings getting 13th with Michael Schaller coming in 20th and Deter Adam coming in 22nd.   In the 55 + race, Rick Ortenblad raced well to finish 15th while I became a casualty to a bad back limping in at 21st.
 In the single speed B race Benoit Dubuisson had mechanicals and finished well back his usual spot in 18th. Javier Valencia was our only entrant in the men's B race , finishing 27th.
This was not our best race of the season but certainly not a bad showing with three district medals and some impressive riding.

BASP final, Coyote Point

The weather was sprinkling on and off for some of the races on this day so the result was constantly changing conditions on the course. This made for some crashes as the course got slicker later in the day. Early races were pretty wet as well-in the morning Michael Schaller navigated the huge 45B field to finish 32nd. Our two entrants in the 35A field did well with Ken Dick getting 8th and Zac Stanley finishing 14th. Brendan Lehman showed that he's definitely getting ready for the nationals finishing 2nd in the single speed A race.

In the women's A race Campbell Steers made the podium with a great ride, coming in 4th with Kelly Chang having a decent ride finishing 10th.
 The men's B field was one of the biggest of the day and Javier Valencia had to start near the back. A bike change and a crash made his race far more difficult but he finished 32nd , riding the last laps on someone else's bike that was hopelessly too small !
 In the men's A race we had four riders, all of whom finished on the lead lap. The big winner was Max Judelson , winning his 3rd BASP event in the series. Ian Stowe rode very strong late in the race to finish 15th as did Kailin Waterman coming in at 20th. Recent So-Cal transplant Eric Nelson rode to  31st starting from the very back of the group.
Here's Max winning the race in a display of confidence and great tactical riding.



Sunday, December 13, 2015

SLO weekend-CX So-Cal style








Getting out of town to chase USAC points is something that the team's not done much of in 2015 but this weekend sounded too good to pass up. Dorothy Wong always puts together a great race and this small but well run event was no exception. The team did not bring a large group as there was a local Santa Cruz race on Sunday that was a classic local event. This kept our traveling team lean but still very potent as there were wins and podiums both days. 
In the men's A race Andrew Juiliano and Max Judelson went 2nd and 3rd both days. Ben Dodge got 5th in the 35 A race pretty much off the couch and David Crum got 5th in the single speed B race. The big star of the weekend had to be Ellen Sherrill who won both days convincingly. 
Saturday saw a larger group from the team with Javier Valencia getting 8th in the men's B race,Craig Ball getting 7th in the men's 45 B race , Alexis De Zubria getting 6th in the women's B race and David Crum getting 15th in the men's 45 B race, his second of the day. 
The Saturday race was dry, dusty and very bumpy so a lot of folks were happy to leave and skip the Sunday race. This was unfortunate as the rain came in early Sunday morning and made for a terrific classic muddy track-a complete change from the day before. Even I managed to get 5th Sunday so that all of the team racers on that day were on the podium. 
Saturday night we were in downtown SLO for a team dinner-the experience reminded me of earlier trips - this was a great gathering and this is really a great group of racers......the good riding only being part of what makes this team very special. A big thanks goes out to our sponsors, the folks that provided host housing and especially to Dorothy Wong and Tyler Wertenbruch for putting on a great event. 
CX is alive and well in So-Cal !