Herbalife24 presented by Marc Pro - Strava

Cycling Team

Coming off of BC Superweek, I was looking forward to having the legs for a good result at San Rafael.  They stepped up this year and joined the USA Criterium Series, which includes some of the hardest crits in North America.  I knew the field would be stacked with the best criterium racers from our area as well as all over the country.  I got to the race early so that Cooper could do the kids race and people were already lined up all around the course.  I gave Cooper the option of racing the final straight with kids his age, or doing a lap and a half with the big kids.  Of course he wanted to ride with the big kids, and even though he couldn’t keep up with most of them, he was able to ride the whole thing and had a blast as all the fans and announcers rooted him on.  Riding with and watching him have so much fun is what this is all about and I couldn’t think of a better way to kick off the night.

IMG_3195 (1)
With The Cascade Cycling Classic running at the same time as San Rafael this year, we only had 4 guys line up for Herbalife p/b Marc Pro – Strava at the start.  Nick, Nate, Matt Chat and I went into the race with a plan to be aggressive and try to make a break if the opportunity was there.  Unfortunately, with a limited amount of ammo, we had to pick and choose our spots wisely.  Nick followed a move early on that looked good but with so much power still in the pack, they never got much of a gap.  Matt was very aggressive for the first part of the race, getting in several moves that looked good, but unfortunately, missed the one that stuck.  The move included Chris Reikert of Mikes Bikes, who had an endless supply of strong riders, and Aldo Illesic of Alto velo Seasucker.  I wasn’t in great position when the move went, but with so many other strong teams in the field that weren’t represented, I hoped the pack would chase them down.  Without having big numbers I knew we weren’t responsible to bring it back, but we contributed to the chase anyway hoping to encourage others to help.  Instead of working together, guys from the field kept attacking the pack to try and bridge across to the break.  Matt followed some of these moves, but with Mikes following every time and sitting on, they never made it that far.  Pretty quickly the move was out of sight and without a concerted chase; I knew we were in trouble.  At one point I started sliding back in the field and Nate came past and told me to get on his wheel.  He helped me move up for the next lap and from then on I made it a point to stay in the top 15-20 riders.

IMG_5140
The two leaders eventually lapped the field and we were officially racing for leftovers.  Things can get pretty dicey at the end of this race, as parts of the course are totally dark and you have so many guys fighting for position.  With just under three laps to go I was sitting in the top 10 and going up the hill I felt someone hit my rear wheel.  I heard someone crash behind me and one of the Mikes guys said Chris went down.  With less than 5 laps to go and no free lap, he had to get back on his bike and chase.  With the field preparing for the final sprint in two laps, there was no easing up.  Unfortunately for Reikert, it took him a while to get going and the pack caught him before the finish and he had to settle for 8th after working so long in the break and lapping the field.  That gave Aldo the victory, but not before he led his teammate Daniel Holloway out to win the field sprint for 2nd.  I struggled to keep pace in the final few hundred meters and came home in 7th.  A good result overall, but I was in position to get on the podium and just didn’t have the acceleration left in the legs.  The end of the season is in sight, but some of the best races are still ahead, so I hopefully we can have a strong finish to an already successful season.

World Police & Fire Games in Fairfax, VA.

It has been a tough week so far. I started the games off by walking in the parade of athletes at the opening ceremonies on Friday night.

20150626_162546-picsay
Opening ceremonies at RFK Stadium
20150626_134746
GOPR1192_1435366686766_low-1
Team USA (California) Cycling guys

Then a 5:30 am wake up call to end up taking gold in the sprints competition on Saturday. Amidst torrential downpours and flash flood warnings we raced on the Fairfax police departments test track for 600 meter heats until a winner was declared. I was victorious in all 3 18+ open heats to earn the victory.

11138069_10207453295116348_7511850860025949484_n
Sprints Podium

I was looking forward to the criterium on day 2 and the weather proved to be much better. I was in the final race of the day, so I was able to watch my friends and partners from work compete in the earlier races.  The course was a rolling 4 corner crit on smooth roads in downtown Fairfax.  My race included local riders from DC as well as all around the world.  Early on the race split up and it was easy to see who I was going to be fighting with for the gold.  After just a few laps, I was in a break with two other riders, DJ Brew from the Maryland National Capitol Park Police in the DC area, and Muhammad Fauzan Ahmad Lutfi of the Royal Malaysian Police Service (Malaysia).  It was clear that they were both very strong, experienced riders and I was going to need to ride very smart to beat them.

11012618_10207462952197769_1831177562413990051_n
For the first half of the 60 minute race we worked together very well and built a large lead on the chasing peloton.  I wanted to get a feel of who I was dealing with, so I attacked hard on the backside of the course up a small rise.  I went really hard for about 20 seconds and when I looked back, DJ was right on my wheel.  I thought maybe we lost Muhammad, but after about 1 lap of chasing, he was back on.  I now knew these were serious competitors that really wanted to win, but also had the ability.  One, the local favorite and the other had traveled around the world to get the opportunity to win gold for his country.  For a while we continued to rotate and share the load, but it seemed that the trust was gone and Muhammad was just soft pedaling when he went to the front.  Then the attacks came.  Muhammad went once and I chased, he went again and DJ chased.  At this point all cohesion was lost and no one wanted to be on the front.  At one point we were all side by side not even pedaling.  I decided enough was enough and I attacked and got a gap.

11261639_10207462951637755_6694391965471371937_n
I looked back and saw that neither rider wanted to be the one to chase me down.  I just put my head down and drove my pedals into the ground.  After a few laps the announcer said I had nearly a 20 second gap with about 13 laps to go.  I continued on knowing I had to give everything at this point.  I was truly suffering and as the laps counted down, so did my gap to the two chasers.  I figured they must be working together, and with 5 laps to go, my lead was only 6 seconds.  I decided to sit up and try to recover as much as possible before the finish.  It was clear we were all tired and didn't want to do the work so that someone else could win, so the group of chasers began to close the gap on us.  We all rotated through for a couple of laps, but our lead continued to dwindle.  Coming up to the finish line with 1 lap to go, we were only a couple of seconds ahead of a small group of chasers.  Entering turn 1, I was on the front and somehow got about a 3 meter gap on my breakaway companions.  With the chase almost on us, I decided to go all in.  I sprinted down the hill and flew through turn 2, and as the road began to rise down the backstretch, I got out of the saddle and sprinted hard for 20 seconds all the way to turn 3.  I looked back and saw I had a good 25 meters on two chasers.  Going into the final turn I kept pushing as hard as I could and as I came up to the finish, I had time to raise my hands in celebration of a hard earned victory.  It was an amazing feeling!

1505552_10207462950717732_717855481616448643_n
I went back to my roots a little bit on the third day of racing.  I'm pretty much just a roadie these days, but it all began in the dirt for me years ago.  I really had no idea what I was getting myself into with this Cross Country Mountain Bike course though.  I did a little mountain biking over the last couple of months to try and prepare, but my handling skills just aren't what they used to be.  The course was just over 6 miles on very technical single track.  During my pre ride, I crashed going over a bridge and somehow snapped off my rear brake lever.  There was only about 10 minutes until my start and I was still about a 5 minute ride back there.  By the time I got to the pits, there was nothing they could do to help me in time, so I just decided to give it a shot with no rear brakes.  It was a sprint from the gun and I quickly found out that rear brakes are necessary to control your bike on technical single track when you're going really fast.  I crashed 3 times in the first 5 miles and I was constantly losing time to 3 riders up ahead.  From then on I kept things under control and put time into the riders behind me, but continued to lose time to the three leaders.  It was a hard fought and disappointing 4th place finish. Thanks to the awesome chiropractor/massage therapist that helped me get back on my feet!!!

20150629_090209
I had a much needed rest day on Day 4, so the family and I had time to go see some of the sights in Washington DC.  We went to the Museum of Natural History, The National Archives Museum and The Air and Space Museum, as well as The Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial.  It wasn’t much of a “rest day”, but it is a rare opportunity to see the history of our country.
11539556_10207515245385066_4021348056704240919_n
The Time Trial was on Day 5, and I knew going in that this is one of my weakest areas.  It takes time and training to get used to the time trial bike, and the one or two times a month I ride that bike just isn’t enough.  The course was a 10 mile out and back on mostly flat terrain.  I had a very early 8:15 start time, so we made sure to show up to the course by around 7:00.  When we got there, they made us drive off road to a wet, grass/mud parking area.  I carried my bike most of the way to the visitor center where I thought registration was supposed to be.  Turns out, they wanted to shuttle us on buses to the start/registration area.  I ask one of the rangers where it was located and he says, “Oh, it’s just about a mile down the road,” so I just decide to ride out there.  5 miles and several short steep hills later, I’m starting to get worried that I was going the wrong way, when I finally come up to reg.  It’s now 7:35 and I don’t have any of my gear, other than my bike, and I know there is no way I’m going to make it back to the car to get ready and then all the way back here to the start.  I didn’t even have my phone, so I borrowed someone’s to call Amanda and have her meet me out here as soon as possible.  I met her on the road and got ready as quickly as possible and when I finally made it to the start line, I had just a few minutes to spare.  With no real warm up, I toed the start line and took off.  To make matters worse, my Garmin wouldn’t even turn on after the Mountain bike race, so in a sense I was riding blind.  I had no idea what the course looked like and I was just going to have to go off feel for pacing.  I went out really hard and after the first few miles I was suffering.  I hit the turn around and when I should have been able to really start powering, nothing was there.  I pushed as hard as I could on the way home, but it was definitely a struggle.  I started off too fast and I paid for it on the back end.  To make things worse, I didn’t even know when the finish was coming up until the final 100 meters and I could have at least made up a couple seconds in that final stretch.  I ended up finishing with a time of 22:14 which was good for 2nd Place in my division and 2nd overall, but I wasn’t happy with my effort.  The winning time by Muhammad Fauzan Ahmad Lutfi of the Royal Malaysian Police Service (Malaysia) was 21:21, so even with a better ride, I probably couldn’t have made up that much time.
11659286_10207488943887545_3697905458920063029_n
Time Trial Podium
20150701_083759-1-picsay
I was looking forward to the Road Race on Day 6 of racing more than any other event.  It was really more of a circuit race that an actual road race, but the course suited me well and was really fun.  It was at the same location as the Time Trial the day before, so I had a chance to do a pre-ride and see how much fun it was going to be.  It was on perfectly smooth park roads and had a few short steep climbs shortly before the finish line.  My group was doing 5 laps for a total of 37 miles.  We weren’t supposed to start until 2:30 in the afternoon, but I wanted to get out early enough to watch my friends and CSP-SAC teammates compete in the earlier races.  Jon Clough and Chad Richards both started at 11:30, so Ryan Couch and I who were both going later, got to the course just before noon.  When we were in the parking lot getting ready, still miles from the course, we heard a bunch of sirens coming from somewhere.  Ryan said, “that doesn’t sound good,” and I had to agree since we were pretty much in the middle of nowhere and the only thing going on that day was the road race.  We got our stuff together as quickly as possible and rode out to the course.  When we got to the course we saw a bunch of medical and response personnel, and asked what was going on.  They told us there had been a really bad crash and several riders were severely injured.  The race had been neutralized up the road and they didn’t know if they were going to continue.  I felt sick to my stomach for the injured riders and didn’t know what to do.  Ryan decided we should try and ride to the start/finish area and where the riders were stopped and see if we could get any more information.  We found our friends Chad and Jon as well as the rest of the racers at the finish line where they were waiting to find out what was going to happen.  That turned out to be a day none of us will ever forget, as one of our fellow cyclists lost his life in that tragic accident, Carlos Silva, a Police Officer from Brazil.  There were other riders severely injured in the accident, Ryan Levins of West Virginia and Darrell Hees of Canada.  They both have very long roads ahead of them, but we are hopeful that they will make full recoveries in time.  We all know this is a dangerous sport, but you never think that something so tragic is going to happen and my thoughts and prayers go out to all the family and friends of those cyclists that were involved in the accident.  It was a tough way to end the day, but calling off the road race was the best way to move forward and there really are more important things in life.  I spent the rest of the day with my family and got ready for the final event I would be competing in, the hill climb. Attached is the link to the gofundme account with the full story and updates on all 3 riders.

http://www.gofundme.com/fairfax2015

carlos
Inspector Carlos Silva of Brazil age 48- died 7-2-2015 while competing in the WPFG Road Race.  Rest in Peace Carlos Racer #109

The Hill Climb event was a short effort, up a 1.25 mile climb that averaged a little over 6 percent.  I was hoping to finish in under 6 minutes, but it’s hard to know how your body is going to respond to such a violent effort.  The climb was really steep in the first half mile, averaging over 9 percent and I went hard from the beginning.  With only 6 minutes of suffering, I thought I could just push hard all the way, but over the steep section, my legs and lungs were on fire.  I couldn’t get enough air and my muscles were suffering from the effort.  I tried to pace myself the rest of the way, and when I finally crossed the line, I was completely spent.  My time was 6:06, good enough for gold in my category, but not quite the time I was hoping for.  It was still nice to finish off the week with another gold medal as well as gold in the overall competition.

11402938_10207502223699532_1434944568912072424_n (1)
Hill Climb Podium

11695783_10207502224819560_8611342345812841866_n
Omnium Podium
11717336_722949547828159_6758260067045508191_o
After a hard week of racing, I competed in 5 total events, and came away with 4 gold, (1 being for the overall), 1 silver, and 4th place, just out of medal contention in the Mountain bike.  Not bad for my first experience in the World Police and Fire Games.  Now I’m looking forward to Montreal, Canada in 2017.

Thanks for all the support,

Joshua Carling

Last weekend, my buddy Garret Hankins (Team Mikes Bikes pb Equator Coffees) and I loaded up the car headed south to Lompoc for the 805 Crit Series. With 3 days of racing and some solid purse money, both of us were looking forward to a full weekend of 90-minute crits. We decided that going down a day early to relax on the beach seemed like the logical decision. We drove down on Thursday, only to discover that the beaches were temporarily closed. Disappointed, but a perfect reason to sit in our hotel room and watch cartoons for hours and hours.

Which is exactly what we did.

Day One: Hancock Twilight Criterium. With strong winds and a subtly curving course, the racing was aggressive from the gun. I found myself off the front for most of the race with a combination of Logan Loader (Amore & Vita), Brandon Gritters (Rock n Road) and rotating door of other riders; some would bridge, then others would get dropped. And repeat. With 5 laps to go, the break had swelled to 9 riders including Garret (who sprints REALLY fast); it was clear we would be staying away.

With two laps to go Gritters put in a haymaker of an attack which got us chasing hard. In our frantic chase effort we managed to lap the field and catch Gritters. 300 meters from the finish Loader launched his sprint as I was coming around when Garret blew by me and posted up for sweet, sweet glory. If you’re going to get beat it might as well be your bro who does it.

Day Two: The Avenue of Flags Criterium. Bigger field, more wind, higher temperatures, and bounce houses.

Plan for the day: make break, win bike race, eat cheesecake. I was hoping we would get a few easy laps before things got lively. These hopes were dashed as people repeatedly threw themselves off the front.

At some point, I decided it would be a good idea to bridge to a dangerous looking move and -Wham! Bam! that was the break. We built a large gap and kept the pressure on; eventually lapping the field. With me, was my Herbalife pb Marc Pro-Stava team mate, Josh Carling.

Coming through bell lap Josh charged to the front and took control through the tight final few corners leading into the finish. Going kamikaze speed into the final corner, Cory Williams (Incycle – Cannondale) dove the inside of Josh, with his teammate Hunter Grove glued to his wheel.

After some bumper boats with Hunter I got a clear line through the corner and sprinted real real hard to victory. With my 2nd place on the first day and my win I was now leading the omnium leading into the final day. I got my cheesecake on the way home.

Day Three: Valley of flowers Criterium. As I walk to registration I wonder to myself, “How is it possible that there is more wind every day. When does it end? How much prerace did I just take?”

With my energy levels all but topped off I lined up for the final day of racing. I’ve never worn a leaders jersey so that was a nice change of pace. I will now sum up the first 45 minutes of racing…ATTACK, CHASE, ATTACK, PRIME LAP, ATTACK, get really tired, realize I shouldn’t have been attacking, hang on for dear life.

At some point Logan Loader and Brandon Gritters got off the front and built a sizable lead over the field- they were gone. I had a healthy lead in the omnium points but I can never say no to a good field sprint. With a couple laps remaining Team Clif Bar had 7 guys on the front keeping the pace high in an effort to deter anyone from slipping away.

Last lap I kept sheltered and out of trouble, knowing thatI could make up a few wheels in the long final straight. I jumped with 300 meters to go and had clear skies to the finish winning the sprint for 3rd.

With three podium trips in three days I sealed up the omnium with Garret in 2nd, Brandon Gritters 3rd, Logan Loader 4th, and Pete Morris (Team Clif Bar) 5th. Huge thanks to Mike Hecker and all of the people that put on an amazing weekend of racing.

Cant wait for next year.

11148621_10203075336002548_8484167453436042870_n

I love this race, not only are there prime laps every lap but every year the amount of wind makes for an interesting race. My plan was simple, attack a bunch till exhausted, realize a break was probably not going to work, wait for sprint. With 10 dollars up for grabs on every lap I decided I would go for one prime to cover lunch and save the rest for the finish. The first 45 minutes of racing were fast and furious (RIP Paul Walker) with people shooting off the front every chance available. After bridging up to a few moves and instantly being brought back I realized that I had been put on a very short leash and my chances of riding the break were slim. Fast forward to five laps to go, a break of 6 including River Ride all star Byron (the Condor) Anson had gotten up the road with a decent gap...needless to say I was a bit worried. With a bunch of work from H24 teammate Nick Schaffner and the CoreTechs team the catch was made with a couple laps remaining. My plan was to stick to Randy (BrambleBee) Bramblett's rear wheel like glue, I knew he would be in the right place and his biceps would provide a great draft. Coming into the final corner I dove the inside of the Vumedi leadout and proceeded to sprint really hard against Randy. I won. I also got a single prime which I used at In n Out Out. 
DFC15
Big thanks to Norcalcyclingphotos.com for the snap

Dana Point Grand Prix- May 3rd, 2015

There is nothing in the world quite like American style criterium racing.  Dana Point, California is a great backdrop to promote such a fast and intense style of racing that will give any passerby on the street, an idea of how dangerous and exciting bicycle racing can and will be.  Deep down, the intense, fast paced style of crit racing is what truly inspires me to race my bike.  I know Willie Myers feels the same way and that is why I decided to make the long trip down to So Cal with him, after racing the Cat’s Hill Classic in Los Gatos Saturday night.

We had a blast, but didn’t quite get the results we were looking for in Cat’s Hill, but that’s another great thing about racing; there is always another race and another opportunity right around the corner.  The West Coast, and Northern California in particular, is loaded with talent and we have a ton of good races throughout the year, from January all the way through September.  One thing we don’t have a lot of though, is big NCC Criteriums close enough to drive to.  Dana Point is one of the few opportunities during the season where we get to truly test ourselves against the best crit racers in the country and the world for that matter.

After having a late dinner with the team in Los Gatos, Willie, his good friend Steven Vogle from North Carolina and Wake Forest, and I, hopped in Willie’s truck and hit the road for a long drive to the glorious town of Button Willow.  There we would rest for a few hours before continuing our trek over the grapevine and down to the coast south of Los Angeles to Dana Point.  We woke up Sunday morning and went for a little spin to loosen up the legs, and of course see the sights that the dust bowl of California had to offer.  We were taking it pretty easy, until an AT&T truck drove up to us and gestured that he wanted to motor pace us.  Willie and I could never turn down a high speed wheel to draft off of, so we picked up the pace and proceeded to fly down some random farm road.  The guy was super excited to help us out and even though we were just trying to spin out the legs, it was worth every second.  After our ride we enjoyed a perfect post ride/pre race meal at Denny’s.  The Red, White and Blue Slam has become kind of a tradition for Willie and I while out on the road, and with Steven jumping on board also, Menu’s weren’t even necessary.  Rested and fueled up, we got on the road for the last half of our trip.

With L.A. traffic being as it always is, I had our teammate Nate Freed, who was staying in So Cal, get me registered just in case we had to rush to the start line.  Turns out we made it with time to spare, especially since the race was running nearly an hour behind schedule.  Getting to the staging area early meant we were sitting around for 20 minutes before the call ups even started.  With this being an NCC1 race, the highest ranking there is, the field was deep and talented and after about 20 call ups,(which didn’t even include the National U23 Criterium Champion, James Laberge), the rest of us scrubs rolled to the start line.  Early on, I just wanted to get a feel for the course and find the lines where I felt the most comfortable and could move up effectively.  About 4 laps in, I was sitting around the top 20, and someone cut right in front of me and sideswiped my front wheel.  I held it upright, but broke a spoke in my wheel.  I put my hand up and slowly rode around the course to the pit.  After getting a new wheel I watched a group of riders go by that already had a big lead on the pack.  The official let me take off when the field was halfway past, and I pretty much had to sprint for 10 seconds just to get on the back of the pack.

With this being a 90 minute crit, I knew there was plenty of time to move up, so I rode sensibly for the next half hour and slowly made my way back towards the front of the group.  At some point I got on Nate’s wheel and started following his lines around the course.  He was riding really smooth and it saved me a lot of energy taking his lines.  The break was 5 riders up the road and several of the big teams were represented.  With Daniel Holloway missing the move, the guys up the road, and their respective teams in the peloton had a ton to gain by making the move stick.   Without a real concerted effort of the big teams to take up the chase, the field kept surging with individual riders attacking, the pack chasing, then easing up after making the catch.  The break continued to open the gap, until with only 20 minutes of racing to go, they had a 50 second advantage.  I figured the break was gone and we were racing for 6th place.  Team Astellas must have felt the same way, because they decided to go to the front and set the pace for Justin Williams, even though they had Ryan Aitcheson in the move.  With only 8 laps to go, the guys in the break must have started planning for the finish because the gap started to come down quickly.  In the matter of a few laps the gap went from 50 seconds down to 25, and with 4 to go, we had a chance to make the catch.  I was in a great position around the top 10 to 15, but kept getting pushed out in the wind as guys kept bumping and fighting for the wheel.  With a lap and a half to go, United Healthcare and Astellas were fighting for the front and I was able to position myself right behind them.  It was almost like a full sprint out of each corner and though I was able to keep pace, I knew I didn’t have a whole lot left.  Going down the finishing straight for the bell lap, I could see the break rounding turn 1 just a couple hundred meters in front of us.  I was going as hard as I could and the riders in front of me continued to accelerate.  Going through turn one, Astellas rider Justin Williams started sliding and had to unclip.  I was lucky to be on the inside because there was no way he was going to make it through the corner without taking himself and a bunch of other riders down.  Riders behind him and to the outside got taken out of the race in a split second, including Laberge whose bike went flying through the air.  Thankfully he was okay, though his rear wheel got taco’ed in the accident.  I refocused my eyes forward and tried to position myself for the final sprint.  I didn’t see Willie behind me, so I just gave everything I had left in the final straight away.  Unfortunately, I had been riding at my limit, so there wasn’t much left to give and I came across the line in 17th.  Willie made up several spots on the last lap to finish 19th,   and Nate stayed upright to finish in the pack.    Finishing with two of us in the top 20 overall was a pretty successful result, although if we could have been together in those final few laps, a top 10 for one of us was definitely possible.  The 5 man break had timed things out perfectly and crossed the line just a few meters in front of us with Karl Menzies of UHC getting the win, Ty Magner of Hincapie in 2nd and Ryan Aitcheson of Astellas rounding out the podium in 3rd.  It was a great race and experience for future NCC crits.  Willie and I know we can hang and even compete with the big boys, and with guys like Nate committed to giving everything they have to move us up near the front, next time we will be even more prepared.

Josh Carling