Marc Pro - Strava

Cycling Team

Louie settles into vacation mode at Drake Park Bend, OR

Louie settles into vacation mode at Drake Park Bend, OR

After much doubt of ever returning to race bikes in Oregon again (3 for 3 of the last trips involved hitting the tarmac), my wife Tasha begged and convinced me to give it one more chance. She had extra motivation, considering that a trip to Bend, OR is tops on her list of vacation spots. We also had to bring our ailing dog, Louie, who had just been diagnosed with Meningitis. The trip was a well timed break from our normal lives and we all needed it. After Tasha went out and crushed McKenzie Pass on our first day in Bend, it was time to start racing bikes.

The Tetherow Prologue is just that, it's a prologue, a really short prologue. Timothy Rugg, our guest rider and all around bad ass for the week, set a blazing time that ended up holding on to 7th for the evening, with myself in 21st and Max Jenkins just behind.

Tim Rugg crushing the Tetherow Prologue

Tim Rugg crushing the Tetherow Prologue

Due to fires up north of Bend in Warm Springs, the inaugural running of the Warm Springs Road Race was cancelled, and the race promoter's came up with the fun idea to run us up Bachelor twice in opposite direction of our Friday road race. The high for the day was 99 degrees with areas of smoke. We set off on this death march at 1030. As usual it was a hectic start, while meatballs jockeyed for position in the 215 rider peloton. The break was established early and Optum took over pace setting for the rest of the day. We missed the break and were relegated to pack fodder for the next 3 hours. All the guys (Jon Teeter, Max Jenkins, Chris HD, Ariel Herrmann, Jared Kessler and even our GC leader Tim Rugg) did a great job going back to the follow car for bottles and kept everyone hydrated. The overall stress of the day was wearing as the peloton constantly locked up their brakes due to the squeezing of the group from travelers that couldn't quite pull off the road. Luckily we narrowly avoided the largest crash of the day, that sent one rider skidding under an approaching SUV, with Jared getting the worst of it but managing to keep it upright. As we approached the final climb, I was mentally checking out and suffering from headaches and heat related suckiness. Luckily Max and Tim were up for the battle and made the final group as the team, especially Teeter, rode their hearts out to keep them positioned well. Tim had a good shot at the sprint and just missed an opportunity, landing him 10th on the day (Good enough for a trip to the USADA Piss tent) and Max just behind in 17th. Art made the 2nd group at 1:27 back with myself in the 3rd group hemorrhaging 1:51 to the leaders (this would end up costing me as the week rolled on).

Jared "the shetland pony" Kessler shows off his quads after a 133 miles in the saddle in 90+ temps!!

Jared "the shetland pony" Kessler shows off his quads after a 133 miles in the saddle in 90+ temps!!

The next stage was my chance to shine as we headed to Prinville, OR for the Crooked River TT. Again this is a time trial so nothing exciting to report except...one of the riders in front of me had a team follow car that decided to try and squeeze through the turnaround point for cyclists and got himself stuck (picture of the actual event below). I ended up having to overshoot the turnaround to avoid hitting the car and absolutely botched the improv job. I may have lost 5 to 10 seconds when all was said and done, but the USAC officials were not interested in making things right...instead they fined the driver and I ended up 8th on the day (still a very proud result) and 6 seconds off 6th. Tim and Max both managed well in the long flat TT, but still lost time and moved down the GC ladder.

To be unnamed team Director doing his best to block my access to the TT midpoint turnaround!!

To be unnamed team Director doing his best to block my access to the TT midpoint turnaround!!

That's my wife Tasha enjoying one of the many treasures of Bend's culinary excellence Glazed and Amuzed Donut Food Truck.  Probably my favorite part of the trip!!

That's my wife Tasha enjoying one of the many treasures of Bend's culinary excellence Glazed and Amuzed Donut Food Truck. Probably my favorite part of the trip!!

The next stage was the 111 mile ass kicker that would send us twice up the full Cat 1 distance of Bachelor. After some bullshit crashes in the first 2 miles (so typical in a 215 rider field), the race was neutralized for about 10 minutes while we waited for those involved to get back to the race. After the green paddle was raised, the throttle was smashed and the field started to implode. Luckily I felt great and was able to ride a nice threshold effort for the next 32 minutes @382 Watts. Max made the break of 12 riders at the top and we were set. The field had decreased to about a 120 riders at the top, but luckily about 50 riders made it back, including Teeter and Jared who would play a huge role in setting us up for the finish with positioning and constant feeding. Ariel didn't make it back and was stuck chasing for the next 4 hours with a small group. The middle part of the race consisted of Jelly Belly setting pace to keep the break in check and everyone else waiting for the last ascent up Bachelor. We hit the final climb after some amazing work by Teeter, Jared and HD. Towards the top Tim was locked on my wheel and I was feeling great. Unfortunately Max suffered from some serious Asthma and lost contact from the remainder of the break at about 3K to go. I put down the throttle for the final 1K trying to set Tim up and dropped him off with 200 meters to go. He ended up 17th on the day with both Art and I in the first finishing group outside the break that we never caught. HD had an awesome ride just down from the first group with Teeter and the pony just behind. Ariel fought the entire day and made the time cut!!

Ariel Herrmann knows how to ride a Crit and is showing race leader Serghei Tvetcov how to take a corner!!  Ariel posted a top 25 result.

Ariel Herrmann knows how to ride a Crit and is showing race leader Serghei Tvetcov how to take a corner!! Ariel posted a top 25 result.

We enjoyed a little down time and ate some good food before heading into the downtown Bend Crit. Our plan was to position well and go for it if we had a chance. If I could find a way to enjoy a 180 person field squeezed into a downtown 4 corner crit, this could be my favorite race because local Bend residents show up in the thousands, 50,000 to be exact and cheer their faces off. It is one of the only times we get to feel like true celebrities. Highlights include nearly our whole squad riding near the front 3rd of the peloton, Ariel holding his position for a top 25, and Tim "the urban cowboy" Rugg moving from the back of the peloton to the front in a matter of 2 laps and snagging a $400 Gambler's Prime!! Afterwords, Tim treated the boys to Beer and food truck madness!!

Time "Rugg Life" laying it on the line for the Gambler's Prime of $400!!

Time "Rugg Life" laying it on the line for the Gambler's Prime of $400!!

The final stage was upon us after 400 miles of racing. The Aubrey Butte Circuit Race is a blast and is usually the kind of course I can manage. Rolling downhill terrain with a series of short steep climbs followed by false flats to complete each lap. Once again the race went nuclear from the start. We lost about 50 riders on the first lap and continued the fast pace, with Jelly Belly keeping the break in check. I did my best to relax and not worry about position until I saw a chance to move up. Once again everyone did a stellar job of feeding and staying hydrated. Chris HD was constantly feeding me bottles. On the penultimate climb the field exploded. I kept my head down and tucked in where I could. Max nailed down a large gap that opened between the first and second large groups and I soon after saw a chance to go for it. I hit it full gas up the final bump on Mt Washington and bridged to a small group containing Eric Marcotte (Pro National Champ), Joey Rosskopf (Hincapie Bad Ass), Andres Diaz (In Cycle Pro in 3rd overall). With the break of 10 more riders just up the road, we all worked to make the bridge. I hit the large riser on the first half of the course and gave it everything to get across. I nearly blew myself prior to making it, but after the Pro National Road champ gives you words of encouragement you find a little more room to suffer. After gathering myself, I realized that this break was full of all the big Pro Contenders and that we had a good chance. Instead of playing the "I'm an amateur card and am going to sit in" I gave it everything. I could have been smarter and sat on the group, but that is not the type of rider I am. We went eyeballs hard for the rest of the lap and had 50 seconds at the bottom of the final climb. After a solid attack by Hincapie kids at the top of the climb I nearly came unhitched, but fought to hang with the big boys. We approached the final 500 meter kicker to the finish, and I was seeing double. I should have had more of a killer instinct and attacked at the 1K but instead sprinted it out for 5th on the stage, which is to this date my best NRC result.

Making the final selection of Aubrey Butte and trading pulls with Tom Zirbel!!

Making the final selection of Aubrey Butte and trading pulls with Tom Zirbel!!

It was truly an amazing week for Marc Pro Strava, and I couldn't be happier with the group of guys that rode their hearts out.





After skipping Nationals last year due to a crash weeks before at Mt Hood, I told myself that no matter what, I would make the trip to Madison, WI for the 2014 US Cycling Nationals. I had some solid early season riding, but I really focused all my energy on preparing for the Time Trial on July 4th 2014. I took a little break during May and ramped up my training through the month of June. All systems were a go after great rides at Dunlap, Nevada City, Little City Stage Race and Satley. I packed my double bike bag and ventured off to Madison, WI. The logistics behind traveling with bikes to a big race like Nationals is honestly an absolute shit show. After teammate, Chris HD's bike finally showed up at the airport, we sat in 4 hours of traffic to make it from Chicago to Madison. We arrived at dusk, and I was able to assemble a bike and take it for a 10 minute spin prior to losing light. Unfortunately, I missed packet pick up and courtesy USAC TT bike check and would have to wait until the night before my TT to get my bike measured...which I had already confirmed was dialed.

Things calmed down a bit on Wednesday as teammates Max Jenkins, Art Rand, HD and Ariel pre rode the Road Race course, and I ventured out to Waterloo to check out the TT. The legs were a little blocked up from not riding the day prior and travels, but luckily I am a master of Marc Pro usage and the legs opened up quickly. Wednesday evening the team gathered for a little Rossi Hodge Podge meal and meeting of how we wanted to approach winning a Road Race Title.

The course was set in Blue Mounds State Park and consisted of 6 13 mile laps finishing with a 5 minute steep pitch each time around. On the final lap you climb the 5 minute ass kicker and then they tack on another 3 minute 10% punch to the finish line. Marc Pro headed to the start with a plan to get Max to the finishing climb with fresh legs. The first two laps were extremely aggressive as riders tried to get into the break...with Chris HD and Ariel Herrmann all over the front of the race. A dangerous move got away at the races midpoint and I decided to join the action. Over the top of the third climb I attacked, figuring I would either close the gap on the break or make the bridge. The group was intent on keeping things together, with all riders wanting a chance to take home the stars and stripes and all I accomplished was closing down the gap of the break. The race remained aggressive for the remainder, with breaks forming and getting reabsorbed. We hit the final climb with Max positioned well at the front. The group exploded as the throttle was maxed out. Emerson Oronote (Horizon-Einstein) made the move at the bottom of the climb, leaving everyone looking at Max to do the work. Max gave it everything to bring it back, but in the end he couldn't pull back the 6.2 Watts Per Kg Emerson threw down for the final 9 minutes. Max hemorrhaged a few places from all the work to bring it back ended up 5th on the day. Art Rand turned in a sterling ride and ended up 12th on the day with myself just back in 21st, suffering from some earlier efforts. Ariel and HD earned top honors by riding with aggression and pure devotion to our squads overall goals.

Pretty interesting how many Ex Pro's are on this podium...at Amateur Nationals!!

Pretty interesting how many Ex Pro's are on this podium...at Amateur Nationals!!

This is normally were I would relax and enjoy my efforts of the day, but instead the USAC officials showed us their excellent forecasting skills and had the final TT bike check clear on the other side of town and ending before I had time to head back to the hotel and wash my taint.

I know what I want to be when I grow up...

I know what I want to be when I grow up...

So loyal teammate and travel companion, Chris HD and I head to the belly of the beast, Downtown Madison, to measure my TT rig. Quick side note here; I should have known a State run by Paul Ryan and Scott Walker, would have been such a disaster.

So we make it to the hotel within 10 minutes of the TT Bike check closing. I'm expecting no problems because I have already spent countless hours perfecting my rig. I walk in and my seat is off level by over a degree and my bars are 2 cm too long. I am baffled at how a carbon fiber bike could morph, but I make the adjustments necessary to pass. HD talks me into going back in to re-check what the hell just happened. My seat is now .5 degrees different from last time I checked it...turns out the level needed to be calibrated, and my seat was dialed to begin with!! Then over to the wobbly, 3rd grade arts and crafts project, held together with a bread tie, piece of shit, better known as the USAC Jig. My bars are a half a centimeter different from 5 minutes ago. Then I have them re-measure on the 2nd jig and there is over a CM discrepancy between the two. This combined with the fact that I am .25 inches too short to get an extra 5 cm of length on my bike really gets my blood boiling. Sorry for the rant, but the fact that I have had lap cards miscounted (Cat's Hill Classic), final GC time miscalculated (Redlands) and one more in my near future (Cascade TT ruling) just pisses me off.

"Why don't you call Switzerland."

"Why don't you call Switzerland."

After I settled down, I got to sleep in preparation of a great day ahead. I went through all the motions to ready myself before the race and was feeling pretty good prior to heading into the start gates. Once again I get my bike measured...turns out somewhere between the State Capitol and Waterloo my bike morphed again, and I magically had a CM to play with.

Beyond Focused 1 minute before Start Time!!  Photo Credit Chris Harland-Dunaway

Beyond Focused 1 minute before Start Time!! Photo Credit Chris Harland-Dunaway

You can't say much in a Time Trial blog and keep it interesting so here is what happened. I absolutely flogged myself for the next 33 minutes. The course was the hardest I have ever played on. The first half was fairly straight forward with some solid rollers that started to tax the legs, but then you hit the bottom of the course and start to make your way back. This is where the course really became challenging. Into a cross-headwind and up and down some serious rollers. If this wasn't hard enough they added an out and back arm that consisted of 3 solid climbs in each direction. By the time I had crossed the finish line I was absolutely worked and had covered 26.2 KM with 900' of climbing with an average speed of 29.5MPH...kind of ridiculous for a Nationals TT course. The announcer updated the roaring crowds that I was the new leader with only 4 riders to finish. I felt pretty good about my effort until Tim Mulvihill bettered my ride by 9 seconds. I was a bit shocked and immediately deflated. The newly upgraded Cat 2 had just uncorked an amazing ride, and he will be on my radar from now on.

After sitting in the USADA holding cell for 2 hours waiting for nervous pissers to finish their business, I finally got the chance to empty my bladder and go have some damn food!! To add insult to injury the new national champ couldn't find his way to the podium later in the day, and I was stuck with a worthless photo opp to share with friends, teammates and sponsors!! You are damn right there is always next year!! #nowiamreallyhungry #yesiamstillbitter

This posting is a big delayed since I've had a bit of a busy few weeks since doing this race between travel, work, more travel, and racing Cascades. But better late than never.

Podium Pic, thanks to Jim Wolf

Podium Pic, thanks to Jim Wolf. Look at those bling Mavic shoes.

Frankly the above photo pretty much summarizes the race. Top three guys are happy, me and Tim Rugg are kind of disappointed. The Marc Pro - Strava team did an amazing job to control the race for me and I kind of blew it at the finish. All five of us on the podium got to do pretty much nothing all day, cruise, and then do a 5 min hill climb followed by a minute break and another 2 min hill climb to decide the winner.

The race started much less aggressive than I anticipated. A small break rolled off on the first of 6 laps and we let them dangle at 2 minutes. There wasn't much of a concerted chase, but my prominent BarFly mounted computer was telling me this race was shorter than expected and our race would be only 128km, just over 3 hours. A steady stream of small attacks and the hill wore on them and they were brought back on lap 4. Justin, Ariel, and Chris HD then went crazy and started attacking and following moves while Art and I just made sure nothing went on the climb. I got to basically sit back and just make sure I didn't get caught out, my aero Giant Propel with super lightweight Ritchey SuperLogic wheels meant I was hardly pedaling on the rolling course. On the last lap two strong riders got a good gap and Ariel got into the rotation with a few other riders to keep the pace super high and bring them back by the bottom of the final climb.

My biggest mistake was not following Emerson, the winner, at the bottom of the final hill which was 5 min and 10% gradient. I saw him get a gap but didn't react right away. I eventually jumped across but the surge put me well over my redline and I couldn't hold the wheel once I got across. If I had just ridden my own pace bottom to top and not worried about anyone else like Emerson, I would have definitely stayed with him. He was riding super well and there is no guarantee that I could have beaten him, but it would have been a mano-a-mano duel in the final 1km climb.

When I opened the gap, Walton Brush of Mike's was on my wheel and didn't or couldn't pull through. This hesitation allowed Eric Slack of Canyon to get back on. Tim Rugg then attacked from behind me but Walton and Eric stayed glued to my wheel. Walton finally gave a half-hearted pull on the short downhill to start the final km. I attacked again coming out of the last turn in a bid to distance my two companions and catch Tim and Emerson. They followed and stayed on my wheel. Finally at about 400m to go Eric attacked. I immediately got on the back and countered in a last ditch attempt to go clear and maybe catch Emerson who had about 10 seconds. I went as hard as possible and passed Tim, but Eric and Walton hung on and then came around me in the flat final 150m. I was pretty deflated at this point and knew a podium was guaranteed but the jersey was out of reach. So, Tim came back around me on the finish line.

Just one week after making the trip with Willie down to Manhattan Beach and taking on the pros, we were at it again.  After getting off work on Friday, we hit the road with about a ten hour drive in front of us.  This time it was just Willie and I along with his dog Travis.  It was a long drive that included a stop at Wild Cherries Coffee for some Marc-Pro Strava Blend coffee along with some crazy wind and rain, and we finally arrived at my sister’s house around 2am Boise time.  We tried to get some sleep and woke up Saturday morning looking forward to another NCC crit.

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The temperatures were expected to be in the triple digits, so we went for a ride in the morning to open up the legs before it got too hot outside.  After having lunch we took some time to just chill out and relax before the 8:15pm start time.  My sister only lives a couple miles from downtown, so after getting kitted up for the race, we just rode down to the course.  After warming up for a bit and searching for some ice to put in our bottles, we were ready to go.  This is basically a flat 4 corner, .5mi, non technical course with the finish about 250m from the final corner.  Our race was 90 minutes, and at the start the temps were still in the 90’s.  Hydration was going to be key, and I think Willie and I both went in a little dehydrated.  I did carry three bottles even though I was basically down to two by the time the race started.   With over 100 riders in the field, getting to the front early was imperative.  From the gun the pace was fast and both Willie and I did everything we could to move up.  With most of the pro teams well represented, the fight for position was crazy in the first 50 spots.  This made for a very fast, sketchy race.  There were several crashes up against the barriers that Willie and I narrowly escaped.  Some riders attacked the field to try and get a break going, but no one ever made it that far ahead.  United Healthcare controlled the front for most of the race and they showed why they are the best criterium team in the country.

With about 10 laps to go, I was positioned around the top 20 and Willie was right behind me.  I was feeling pretty good at this point, but that is when UHC really began to push the pace.  A couple of times I was able to move up right behind the UHC train, but for some reason kept getting shuffled back.  There were a lot of really fast guys fighting for that same spot and I was wasting a lot of energy keeping us up there with a chance.  With 3 laps to go, UHC upped the pace again, and since their fifth fastest guy is as good as most other teams best, it became almost impossible to move up.  I was in the top 30, but I lost Willie and I was pretty much maxed out.  The last two laps are pretty much a blur, and I did everything I could just to maintain position until the finish.  I tried to sprint out of the last corner, but I don’t know that I accelerated much, if at all.  That has to be the fastest race I’ve ever done and I learned a lot in the process. Crit racing always comes down to positioning and with a race this fast, it’s about positioning at the right time.  Don’t waste energy fighting for that wheel in the top 10 with 10 laps to go if it’s going to affect your ability to fight for that wheel when it really matters, going into the final.  The results from this race weren’t great, with me finishing 28th and Willie 42nd, but we made it to the finish with all our skin intact and it just motivates us to get better and challenge ourselves even more.

The last few weeks have been like a blur for me.  I went from being off the bike a few weeks ago from what I thought was a complete tear of the LCL, to racing at the top level of the sport here in the states at the NCC Level II Manhattan Beach Gran Prix on July 6th.  This race wasn’t even in my thoughts until my teammate Willie Myers brought it up at the Davis 4th of July criterium.  I felt great at that race and helped lead Willie to victory, so the thought of making the trip to So Cal was very intriguing.  The original plan was to be in Madison, Wisconsin racing the Elite Nationals, but after my knee injury that was immediately scrapped.  With the knee feeling better way earlier than expected, my schedule opened up for Manhattan Beach.  Willie, me, and Nathaniel Christensen (Nano) decided at the last minute to make the trip.  I had to work from 6-2pm on Saturday, so we weren’t able to hit the road until almost 4pm.  At some point on the road, our housing plans in L.A. fell through and we were left scrambling to find somewhere to stay.  After Willie and Nano tried unsuccessfully to get a hotel room somewhere near the race, we started reaching out to the cycling community.  We were still waiting to hear back from some people when my wife Amanda let me know that her Uncle Brian would let us crash at his house in Van Nuys.  Not the perfect location, but we made the most of it and after getting in around 11pm, we tried to get some rest.  That was easier said than done considering the whole neighborhood it seemed was still celebrating the 4th by setting off extremely loud fireworks all night long.  Every few minutes a blast would go off and all the dogs in the area would go nuts.  It was a rough night, but we still had a few good laughs about it. In the morning we went for a short spin to try and open up the legs after a long trip, and even road along the L.A. River for a short distance.  Seeing what they have to offer us cyclists really makes me appreciate the American River Bike Trail and all the good roads we have to train on.

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I don’t think I could live in that area and enjoy being a cyclist.  The ride did help the legs and afterward we enjoyed a pre race breakfast that hit the spot; The Red White and Blue Slam at Denny’s.  We drove to Manhattan Beach where the racecourse is only a block above the ocean.  We had big plans to hit the beach after the race, but since there was a shark attack there the day before, we decided to keep our feet dry.  This course is shaped like a hot dog with a couple of small rollers and two hairpin turns.  The finish is about 250m after the final turn.  For an NCC race the field as actually quite small with only about 80 riders to start.  With Nationals finishing up and BC Superweek just kicking off, riders were spread around the country and it made for a small, but stacked field of Pros and Cat I’s.  United Healthcare had their whole squad and several other pro teams were well represented.  Our plan going in was to try and stay close to the front, and if a break went, try to get one of us in it.  We knew it was going to be controlled by UHC, so we didn’t bother wasting our energy unless they were present.  Early on, Willie got in a move with two UHC riders, a Bissel rider and an Optum rider.  They never made it that far ahead of the pack and it seemed that UHC was just sitting on in case the gap opened up.  It went like this for most of the race, where a small group would gain a few seconds on the pack and then they would sit up.  UHC made a bunch of false attacks just to make people chase and then they would just sit up.  After watching this a few times, we knew it would be a field sprint.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=md7hjNEnxvA

With 5 laps to go I told Willie that we needed to stick together near the front.  I was planning on giving Willie everything I could to get him as close as possible to the front going into the final turn.  UHC went to the front and really began to push the pace with 3 to go.  The fight for position was on and I did the best I could to keep us near the front and at the start of the last lap we were sitting good right around the top 10.  There were 6 UHC riders on the front, so I just wanted to stay where I was as they began burning their guys out one by one.  Going into the second to last turn, I heard someone go down behind me and as I glanced back, Willie was sliding across the road.  I knew I was on my own, so I focused on keeping myself in the best position for the finish.  The UHC train didn’t have to use up their guys until those last few laps, so they were in a full on sprint for that final 1k.  I tried to move up going into to the last turn, but I was on Sean Mazich of Jelly Belly’s wheel and couldn’t get by.  I kept my sprint going all the way to the line and just didn’t quite have the top end I needed to make up positions, but I was able to hold 8th place.  A good result, but a bummer that Willie went down, especially when he knew he had the legs for a top result.  Thankfully Willie didn’t get too banged up in his crash, and I know he can’t wait to get back out there and have another crack at it.  The wait won’t be long; we’ll be making the trip to Idaho this Saturday for the NCC Boise Twilight Criterium.
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