Herbalife24 presented by Marc Pro - Strava

Cycling Team

There was a jump just after the bridge. Photo copyright Jeff Namba.

There was a jump just after the bridge. Photo copyright Jeff Namba.

Sacramento CX courses and organization keeps getting better every year. Why aren't you out there racing yet?

With some Norcal riders at UCI races on the East Coast, my teammate Keith Hillier stuck at a wedding, new talent Mike Larson (Velo Reno) stuck at work and the always fast Justin Thomas (Reno Wheelmen) taking the weekend off - it felt like there were some fast names missing from the first Sac CX race of the 2015 season.

So my dumbass thought I would be in-for an "easy" race to the podium. But then this fast mountain bike dude, Gareth Feldstein show ups, gets the hole shot and just keeps going.

I guess we were racing w/ Gareth Feldstein (Real Wheels). Photo copyright Dale Tapley.

I guess we were racing w/ Gareth Feldstein (Real Wheels). Photo copyright Dale Tapley.

By the end of lap two, everyone else had crashed, mechanical'ed or gotten dropped. That put the Gareth and I with a huge gap that we would hold the rest of the race. But instead of slowing down and respecting the heat, we just kept racing. After a couple laps of trading attacks, I eventually cracked and Gareth danced away from me in one lap as if he enjoyed the 90+ degree temps. I'll get my revenge once it cools down like 50 degrees.

Sacramento CX #1, Orangevale Park Results

  1. Gareth Feldstein (Real Wheels)
  2. Nick Schaffner (Herbalife p/b Marc Pro - Strava)
  3. Curtis Smith (Real Wheels)

Cyclocross in China? In August? WTF!?

Cyclocross in China? In August? WTF!?

So I went to China and did some international UCI cyclocross races in August and early September. Yes, this is a thing, and there isn't much information available about it on the Internet. But I am going to change that, lack-of-information, in one solid blog post.


With less than two-weeks before I needed to be on a plane, enroute to China to race, I received an email from the race organization:
Dear Friends,

Welcome to China and the 3rd annual Qiansen Trophy Cyclo-cross Festival! In 2015, Qiansen Trophy Cyclo-cross will hold two stations in China, dates from 08.30.15 – 09.2.15.

Hope to see you in China! Let's enjoy the events together!Best wishes,

Songyanxing, Director of the Race Department
That was pretty much it. An official invitation to race in China, out-of-the-blue. Two C1 events, with UCI points going 15-deep. Book a ticket, get your travel Visa, get on a plane and go, NOW.

Foreigners dancing awkwardly.

Foreigners dancing awkwardly.


The Chinese tourism board is funding these athletic endeavours in China. They want events happening with international competitors to spur internal tourism interest. So they are paying for athletes to travel from out-of-country. I had to buy my own plane ticket, but was reimbursed by the race organization - in cold-hard-cash. They also arranged all of my transportation from the airport, to the hotel, and to the races. All meals were served through the hotel, and covered under the travel expenses. I could have done the whole trip without a wallet (but I would have been pretty hungry at the airport). My total out-of-pocket for the 9-day trip? Less than one-hundred American dollars.

However, it's not a free vacation to China. They are bringing you there to RACE. That means you are expected to be in athlete-mode for the duration of your trip. Eat, sleep, race, repeat. There is not much time to be a tourist during the trip. We got to see the Great Wall for an hour, wander around Beijing after a race, and visit a "replica" ancient Chinese village - but that was pretty much it. If you want to see more of China while you are there, I recommend extending your stay after the races are over. Your western dollar will go very far in China if you decide to stay.


A few legitimate World Cup racers attended the races, along with many racers capable of a top-10 in a North American UCI event, and then a handful of racers who probably shouldn't have been there in the first-place. If you can hang at a UCI level, and you don't just own a UCI license because you think it's cool, you can hang at these races - as long as you are in reasonable race-shape. As these events gain more prestige, it will become harder-and-harder to pick up some early season points - and you'll be getting lapped by World Cup Euros going a-minute-a-lap faster than you.



The courses are not that great. They are good imitation of what a good CX course might seem like, but like many knock-off products made in China - there is something just not quite right about it. The courses would make for respectable, non-sanctioned courses in your local CX series. But they fall short when dealing with the speeds and pack mentality of international UCI racing. While there is no "singletrack" - there is a lot of single-tracks. Better get that hole-shot, or prepare for an hour of traffic negotiation.


  • Bring two tire options, file tread and mud tires. It started pouring at the start of one race, and no-one was prepared. Mud-slick mayhem.
  • Bring every possible thing you would need to repair your bike, cables, housing, brake pads, bar-tape, chain, etc. Chinese bike shops don't even sell inner-tubes, seriously.
  • Avoid meat, seafood and even vegetables when possible. Your tummy just isn't used to the different types of normal, safe bacteria in China. Learn to enjoy rice and hard-boiled eggs for 9-days straight. The hotels will serve you 90% meat-things.
  • Bring as much of your own comfort food as you can possibly fit in your bags. I would have killed someone for a jar of peanut-butter during this trip.
  • Bring your own coffee solution, instant or otherwise if you need a caffeine fix.
  • Drink and horde bottled water (it will be provided by the race organization and hotel in mass quantity)
  • Learn some basic Chinese phrases BEFORE you go. It will go a long way to getting you around and making sure your needs are met. Some members of the race organization can do some basic translation for you, but they aren't always available. Especially at the airports when you are haggling over baggage fees.
  • This much travel will ruin you. Of the 9-days I was there, almost half-of-that was spent in an airport, on a plane or on a bus. It took me two-weeks to get-over the jet-lag following the trip, with my ass still dragging going-into Cross Vegas.
  • The race organization will offer to take you to places like the Great Wall or other tourists destinations. DON'T SKIP THESE EVENTS. You are in China for fucks sake, go see some things that will blow your mind.
Photos brought to you by the amazing New Zealand photographer and karoke singer Ricoh Riot. More at http://www.ricohriottphotography.com/

With the year coming to an end the Vacaville Grand Prix is one of the last big races of the season and is also this years State Championship. After a very successful few weeks the Herbalife p/b Marc Pro - Strava boys were chomping at the bit for a chance at another result. An hour before the start the team huddled under the tent while Phil gave us the pre race talk, we would ride for the field sprint (which was good news for me) unless we could stack a favorable break. The Vacaville course is one of the best courses around, with a sizable hill and technical back side, the racing is fast and dynamic with an good chance of a break staying away. From the gun the racing was on with our guest rider Tim Rugg hurling himself off the front at every chance possible and the rest of the team covering moves and keeping me up front. As the laps ticked down the chance of a bunch gallop became more evident. With 5 laps remaining the H24 train took control with me sitting comfortably on the back, with our entire team on the front I got an armchair ride and didn't have to waste any extra energy fighting for position. Everything was going to plan until three laps to go when Matt Rodriguez (Airgas - Safeway) shot off the front with a furious attack up the hill. After soloing the final three kilometers of the Winters Road Race the day before we knew that if anyone could steal the show it would be him. The boys kept their cool and upped the pace, knowing that if we didn't bring him back, no one would. Coming through on the bell lap Rodriguez still had a 10 second lead and was turning himself inside out to not only win the race but possibly seal the CalCup overall title. with our train down to its final couple riders Matt Chatlaong took the front and went absolutely ballistic leading into the hill, the second Chatlaong started to slow my last man Josh Carling opened his sprint and made the catch with around 800 meters remaining. At this moment the Mikes Bikes p/b Equator Coffee train jumped hard taking the lead in hopes of delivering their all star sprinter Garrett Hankens to victory. I dove into their train slotting in third wheel. Coiming into the final 90 degree turn James Laberge (Champion System - Stan's Notubes) opened up his sprint and  dove into the inside and opened up a small gap over the final TMB rider and myself. Knowing James could easily win the race with this move I jumped and made contact with him, I kept my momentum up and came past with 200 meters to go and was able to hold it to the line for the win and the State Criterum title. Watching my teammates turn them selfs inside out, knowing I could finish the job makes the win much sweeter. Im now leading the Cal Cup series with one race remaining. 

Funny story actually, I was over at my girlfriends house having breakfast with Amy and her mom Sandra. Sandra asked if I was doing the cccx race later that day. I didn't think she knew what she was talking about because Im "so on top of it" so I just thought she was guessing, but sure enough she was right. After I told her that I was going to go race that, she asked if there was anything else I need some help with. "no Im ok, I think I got it from here. Thanks though". I checked the time and saw that my race starts at 3:40 so I had plenty of time. I went home and got all my stuff together for a 70min circuit race.

I got all signed up with the other 15 riders in the p/1/2/3 race. After rolling around to get warmed up, I hung out by the 180 turn to watch the masters race finish. Every one that came up to me thought that I was Matt Chatlaong. All these guys were asking about the team and how my season has been going and if I was the one that won that Budweiser Crit earlier this season. "Nope, that was Matt Chat". So after a few of the guys in my race talked to me about everything, we went to the start line. And I found out after that most of the riders thought that I was Matt Chat so they were all marking me, not letting me go and just waiting for a sprint finish while other strong riders were attacking and getting reasonable gaps. I just followed wheels, keeping an eye on Jason G. (VuMedi) because I know he is really strong. Some guys would only go to the front on the tail wind section because...well..its a TAILWIND and they would drill it for 20 seconds then swing off. I chased down a few attacks that looked good but wasn't very aggressive as everyone was still thinking my name was Matt and not Cerruti as it says on the side of our awesome customized Jakroo jerseys. With about 35min to go, we were dropping riders off the back really fast. We got the group down to about 8 riders within a few laps. Then with only about 4 to go is when Gavin M. started razoring on the front and slowly slipped away from me as I was on his wheel. I didn't think much of it and swung off to let someone else take over. Thats when an integrity racing rider went with him. Once they got into a rhythm, they established a gap and we kept it there with only a few of us rotating and another integrity racing rider blocking in the pace line. I knew we weren't going to catch them with the 2 laps we had left so I skipped a few pulls to make sure I had something for the uphill sprint finish. With 2 to go, 1 rider went off the front trying to catch the riders ahead of us. On the last lap, I followed wheels that were following those last minute attacks. Right before the 180 turn to go back up to the finish after a short downhill, Jason dropped back behind me. That made me think he was feeling good and thinks he can come around us for 4th. I kept an eye on his shadow ready to pop up at any moment. One rider went for it early, followed that 3rd wheel. The guy in front of me went for it with 200 to go, I stayed seated and waited for him to blow up. He swung off at 100m to go, and thats when I threw everything down that I had left and held off everyone else that was sitting on. I rolled through in 4th place. It was a good training race, really fun to go out there and have some fun and grab a podium spot at one of my local races in monterey.

Four H24, our race really began three weeks ago; for me, with a phone call fro Felipe el Mooney - AT 2AM!

I answered " Hello?!?"

Felipe "Hola! ¿Qué llevas puesto?"

Chuck, "What?"

Felipe "What are you wearing."

Chuck, "Jakroo custom bibs, extra small, and a Jakroo race jersey, with my name down the side that I have cut into a halter top to expose my belly button. Unfortunately one side says 'Hutch', and the other 'eson'. Why? and why are you speaking Spanish?"

Felipe replide, "Chuck, I want you to know something, and the reason I am speaking Spanish to you will become evident. The Suisunes (also called the Suisun and the "People of the West Wind") were a tribe of Native Americans that lived in Northern California's Suisun Marsh regions of Solano County, California between what is now Suisun City, Vacaville and Putah Creek around 200 years ago. In 1834, General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo of Sonoma, as the comandante of the new pueblo projects in the region, became a very valuable patron and friend to Chief Solano, and formed an alliance with the Suisunes. The mission system was closing down. Chief Solano and the Suisunes led many expeditions with the object of quelling the other tribes of the region, particularly "the Wappo, the Satisyomis (aka Sotoyomes, a Wappo tribe) and the Cainameros (aka the Pomo Indians of Cainama in the region toward Santa Rosa)", who were attempting to throw off Mexican domination. Chief Solano eventually helped to secure peace between the region's Native Americans and the Mexicans. A peace treaty was signed in 1836. With the alliance with General Vallejo, the tribe was relatively powerful."

Chuck, "Did you just read that from Wikipedia?"

Felipe, "Si"

Chuck, "Ok, what does this have to do with me?"

Felipe, "I want you to help Willie win a wace. Help him find registration, help him pin his number, help him find his wallet, help him find team water bottles - hell, help him watch Travis if you have too."

Luckily I didn't have to help him watch Travis. Travis chews thing. Otherwise, Willie needed help with everything else. Fortunately, someone else helped him find reg. I started to help him look for his wallet, but when I saw the back of his van I remembered it has been awhile since I had a tetanus shot - and promptly abandoned this endeavor. I also gave up on pinning his number out of frustration as to where I felt it should go, and where he wanted it.

At our team meeting we had HD, Ariel, Josh, Matt Chat, Kieth, Willie and myself. Solid group. Even more solid was that Felipe had brought us a fresh supply of H24, which I promptly snagged a bunch of scoops of 'Prepare.' I also added to that bottle some 'Lift Off,' and I was ready to ride. Felipe said, " We have a good group of sprinters, like Willie, Matt, Josh, and Chuck, so I think we can win this." Just kidding, he didn't say Chuck, but the glimmer in his pupil as we made uncomfortable eye contact told me otherwise. I was love. Or, it may have been gas.

Anyway, I was lucky enough to be selected to where Kali Protectives new, arrow as chuck helmet called a the "Tava." The pressure was on.

At the race line, I heard other team riders talking about how hard the previous day's Dunnigan Hills Road race was. Winy, hot, and smokey they said. Brutal! They also said that Roman had the where with all to flat, sit out a lap, and shatter the front group on the next lap. Brilliant! Kind of like a free lap in a crit - I can't believe I have never thought of this!! Just when I think I have heard everything that a smart rider does for his team, an ex-pro one-ups my knowledge. Roman's brilliance would continue to shine in this hot race too!

After the whistle blew, the heat kicked in, and our tongues dropped. Damn it was hot! I attacked from the first turn, drilled it around the second turn and sprinted down the back straightaway. When I looked back to see how badly I splintered the group, EVERYONE was there, leisurely riding along, talking, and passing Grey Poupon. At this moment I realized my weaknesses; particularly speed, power and endurance. Before the tears could set in, flurries of attacks were launched across this .8 of a kilo, narrow no-wind course. God it was fun!

Willie, who was supposed to sit in and rest, did not sit in and rest. His balls were big too, and he was out to prove it.

The speed were doable, for me, mostly because my equipment (like deep-dish Ritchey carbon wheels). Ariel and HD were badass too! With each attack, the other would go. It was spectacular! Riders like Davis's Jonathan Penaloza and Cal Giant's Jacob Albrecht were throwing down there cards too, and saying F' it, let's do this. It was game on. Not to be outdone Randy Bramblett's Coretech riders were pulling breaks back in like it wasn't no-thing for their after-mentioned sprinter.

Then the heat kicked in.


It got hot.

Damn hot.

Interestingly, Kali's Tava helmet, which looked hotter than balls, was not. Somehow a breezed flowed just enough over my dome to keep it cool. Just wish it could cover the rest of my body!

When I looked around, guys were hurting from the heat. My bottles were both almost empty, and my mouth was smacking dry like a dog who had just been feed peanut butter by a cruel pre-pubescent red-haired bully. At this point, I saw Roman reach out and grab a water bottle on the backside of the course. Brilliant! Why din't my team think of that? Pretty sure I am mad at Felipe for not thinking of this! Almost immediately after this, Ariel launched, and took big, bad, sexy beast David Grundman from Team Cliff Bar with him. Roman bridged, and they were GONE! I was glad. Now, other's had to pull this horse to the end.

At this point HD yelled to Willie, "what should we do?! I am so scared!"

I interjected with "follow people fool." Again, I'm just kidding, I volunteered this information. We were good, as long as they had some distance. Ariel, really, really wanted this, and the way he was riding, I think he was going to get it, or poop himself trying.

Up front, Ariel tried to get away, but it wasn't happening - and with four laps to go, they were within sprinting distance. It was at this point I hear Josh say, " Chuck, me and Willie are on your wheel." For the next two laps I slowly moved us up. With two to go, I passed the Mike's leadout on the left of the start finish line, and took it for half a lap - where we passed the break. Keith took over, then HD. On the last lap Matt Chat when 1970s Oakland raiders on the field and gave Willie, Josh and Travis Lyons a gap on the rest. Then BOOM Willie laid on the afterburner for the WIN, with Travis second and Josh third!!! Here is the sick video I couldn't figure out how to embed:


And here is Josh's tail cam: