Herbalife24 presented by Marc Pro - Strava

Cycling Team

Last week I had the opportunity to help out our sponsor Marc Pro by participating in a photo shoot down in Lake Arrowhead.  We had a portion of the team heading to the Chico Stage race the following weekend, so understandably they didn't want to travel all the way down to southern California for a couple days then try and make it back in shape for the race.  I was excited to go and make it a mini-vacation with Jen.

Lake Arrowhead and the surrounding area of the San Bernardino national forest is a spectacular place.  There is a section of the highway called 'Rim of the world' that features spectacular views and crisp air.

The view around Lake Arrowhead

The view around Lake Arrowhead

There are some awesome mountains down in SoCal!

There are some awesome mountains down in SoCal!

The photoshoot itself was actually pretty fun.  The production team had already scouted out two places to shoot.  My job was pretty easy: ride up the hill a bunch of times and do what I'm told.

Resting up before another round up the hill.

Resting up before another round up the hill.

Long and short of it is if you have a chance to ride around the San Bernardino area (once the snow melts), I'd do it.  Hopefully there will be some cool media coming out of Marc Pro soon! Thanks for reading.

Team Set Up Prior to Thunderhill Circuit...LEGIT!!

Team Set Up Prior to Thunderhill Circuit...LEGIT!!

The Chico Stage Race has quickly become the big Early Season event that everyone has on their calendar. The stages, location and organization behind the event puts the race on par with the biggest of races on the NRC Calendar. Early season form for all 168 riders was bordering on PEAK for the season, as many spent their winters putting in huge miles on the dry California roads with goals of grandeur fresh in minds.

Stage 1 was again the Thunderhill Circuit Race, but this year the race time was doubled! I think it made for a much safer race and gave everyone a chance to truly open up. We were convinced our team's streak of wet weather would follow us into Willows, Ca, but the burley dark thunderclouds just skirted the race course and gave us a dry race course. We covered 54 miles in just under 2 hours with an average speed near 28 MPH!! After many attempts by all teams to get away, it ended in a field sprint. Daniel Holloway, Athlete Octane, took the field sprint in dynamic fashion with our top rider, Jared "the pony" Kessler, squeezing in for a top 10 in 8th. The rest of our crew avoided certain death on the final corner and finished safely in the main group.

Chuck with one of many attacks on the day!

Chuck with one of many attacks on the day!

Chow at the Host house!!  Deanna and Luke really spoiled us with a Taco Bar and homemade brownies!

Chow at the Host house!! Deanna and Luke really spoiled us with a Taco Bar and homemade brownies!

We had a fast turnaround for the Paskenta Hills Road Race the next morning. We suited up with our best equipped wheel setup for the fabled gravel and got to the start line. The race changed a bit this year and started us 10 miles from the gravel. The lead-in to the gravel was hectic and once we hit it, chaos ensued. Unfortunately one of our strongest hopes for the day, Jared, got stuck behind a stupid crash and would finish his day by chasing for 80 miles! The rest of the squad made it through and was very active for the remainder of the first lap.

My face says it all as I tried to relax behind the stable wheel of Chris HD!

My face says it all as I tried to relax behind the stable wheel of Chris HD!

The second lap continued with multiple attacks as the field motored along. Chris HD and Adrien Costa (Cal Giant) got away just prior to the gravel but Optum set a surely pace that brought them back. I gave a good effort at the front, but the headwind kept everything together...the back sounds like a different story as we finished the gravel with only 60-70 riders left in the 160 person field. This is when the magic of bike racing all happened. I realized the wind had increased, and it was going to be a cross-head along the entire 10+ mile stretch of the course. Optum organized well and drilled it, similar to their 2014 performance. The line of riders stretched out with everyone in the gutter, and I moved left to form a second echelon. Instead of riders falling in line to help, they one by one snuck by the inside and tried to drill it across the forming gap. Only a few made it but the rest failed miserably. When the dust settled, Chuck made it up the road in the front group of 15-20 riders, with Josh and I stuck in the chase group of 30+. KHS, myself and Rob Evans (Bear Devo) took up the chase, with a slew of isolated riders sitting on for no apparent reason (including the race leader) and Mike's Bikes mixing in to block any sort of organized rotation. Knowing that my GC hopes were riding away, I buried myself to limit the damage. In the end Chuck finished in the lead group with Josh and I 1:20 back.

HD was not happy about missing the split that landed him in the 3rd group.  Keith put in a great effort too!!

HD was not happy about missing the split that landed him in the 3rd group. Keith put in a great effort too!!

Jared tried to sooth the mood after a hard day in the saddle!

Jared tried to sooth the mood after a hard day in the saddle!

Ronnie the swanny was amazing all weekend!!  She readies our next days Herbalife Nutrition in between massages!!

Ronnie the swanny was amazing all weekend!! She readies our next days Herbalife Nutrition in between massages!!

The Time Trial was my chance for redemption of the previous days let down. I knew my fitness, timing, nutrition and equipment were all in line...and my motivation was bordering on rage!! I went hard and pulled out a Win! Chris HD deserves honorable mention as his TT continues to vastly improve, making him a very balanced all around rider and hopefully future winner of big stage races!!

Alex Chiu captures me in the final 5 minutes of pure suffering!!  Have I mentioned how awesome Jakroo is!!

Alex Chiu captures me in the final 5 minutes of pure suffering!! Have I mentioned how awesome Jakroo is!!

After the TT I was sitting 7th, 37 seconds off the leader, and really no hope of moving into a podium spot. Chuck had put in a solid TT but slipped just outside of the top 10 GC. The Crit was extremely fast and HMPS had a few highlights with Josh sneaking in for another top 10 result and Jared floating to wherever he pleased. He actually was responsible for moving everyone up. At one point he came back to about 60th wheel and picked me up. He verbally assaulted/coached me to the top 20 wheels over the next few laps, where I held my place for the remainder and finished safely to maintain my overall GC spot.

The Pony

The Pony

All in all, the team had a blast! We will continue to work on our weaknesses and fine tune our strengths as the season progresses! And I know that will all happen because we have this guy...
Phil Mooney.

Phil Mooney.

With a new title sponsor, Herbalife 24, joining the Marc Pro - Strava team for the 2015 season, it was clear we were going to change up the look and branding of the team. Luckily for me I had Nick Shaffner of Orbital Labs on my side, willing and able to take the lead in designing and mocking up the kits.

Nick had a clear vision for the look: 1) a base of green and black to represent H24 and Marc Pro. 2) a colorful strip on the back based off an infographic explaining the products of the H24 line and tying in the colorful bikes from Giant USA. 3) a yellow band on the arm of the jersey to represent Mavic's Classic yellow color and the yellow of our team issue Spy Optic Screw sunglasses. Fourteen iterations later, this design was finalized and approved by all of our team sponsors. The kit you see the riders wearing today was born!

Jakroo Custom Apparel has been a sponsor of the program for 2 years. The company owns every step of its process end to end. Jakroo USA has a base of operations locally here in the Bay Area, in Pleasanton, CA. They entered the cycling space under the Jakroo brand name 5 years ago, although they have been producing and designing custom clothing for 20 years. They have nailed their niche in the market: top quality, low order volume, amazing customer service, and an absolutely incredible turnaround time. The experience I had ordering our team kit exemplifies their smooth operation.

I first sent Michael Hernandez, local NCNCA cycling legend and Director of Sales at Jakroo, the mockup of the kit on January 5th. The very next day, January 6th, he emailed me a link to authorize and finalize our kit designs. Along with this, he sent me codes that would authorize riders to order a specified dollar amount of clothing. The in-house Jakroo designers replicated Nick's vision to perfection, and I was able to approve the design on the first go. As soon as I authorized it, our online store was open (you can still order more kit here: (http://shop.jakroo.com/storefront/Herbalife-MarcPro-Strava-2015). The date was Jan 6th.

I gave riders 4 days to submit their orders. They specified the clothing they wanted, some wanted 3 skin suits, others wanted cold weather riding gear, etc. By letting them choose their own kit allocation, they were able to get exactly what they wanted. They could specify both the size and the fit (Standard or Slim) for each item. To top it off, each rider could customize their kit with their "custom name", an incredibly cool and unique feature giving the kit a personalized feel. Riders entered their code specifying their allotment of kit and could easily order more if they saw fit. Finally, they entered their home shipping addresses. That's right, no sorting out the kit from a big order by hand, making big piles and lots of headaches. The brand new kit would be delivered right to our doorsteps.

The delivery to each riders doorstep happened perfectly. Boxes arrived at their houses on Jan 26. That's right, the kit was produced and delivered 21 days after first contacting Jakroo and 16 days after ordering it. Incredible! And get this, we're able to reorder new kit every two weeks that will be delivered 14 days later at 3-5 piece bulk pricing for a single piece. No more having to reserve a stock of kit for riders that go down, I can always just order more!

Out of the box, the colors really pop. The attention to detail is incredible. Reflective tabs. A zipper pocket on the back. A super quality chamois. A perfect fit. Both myself and my riders couldn't be happier with our Jakroo experience. In summary: just use Jakroo to make your custom team kit. They're the best.

The joke at the start was 'I didn't make the team for Snelling'.  While 9 of my teammates were out in the Central Valley, Ariel and I were in the Central Cold for the UC-Santa Cruz road race.  I'm a graduate student at UCSC and live less than 3 miles from the course so when the roster was being drafted for Snelling, I told our director Phil that I'd already planned on racing at home instead of away.  It's also great to support the collegiate teams and do a race that really is 'just for fun'.

For those who haven't done it, the UCSC road race (or the University Road Race) is a 4.3 km course with roughly 400 ft of elevation gain.  The collegiate version of the race is slightly sorter with 18 laps (for those doing the math, that equates to more than 6,000 feet of climbing).

I went into this race somewhat nervous.  The day before, for the first time this season I wasn't able to do my workout, legs just weren't cooperating I was sucking air like crazy and everything hurt, it was bad.  It put me in a mood all day because I knew that the University race course was not forgiving at all to those kinds of sensations.  I tried to put it out of my mind and I made a mental note for the rest of the season: Take your recovery EXTREMELY seriously.  This time of year I do what's called 'block training' where you string together 3-5 workouts that absolutely crush you, then you recover for a couple days and do it again.  I was foolish and rode too much and too hard on those days and as a result I lost one of my days to fatigue.  I've been racing for 10 years, but still learning.

Anyways, the race.  My plan was to make the first 4 laps super fast, to force the selection, then ease up for a few laps, then make the final laps hard again.  I followed my early plan and rode away from the group with Stefano Profumo, Craig Fellars, Ariel, and a Canadian rider from Alberta (John?).

The 3 of us worked together to gap the field.

The 3 of us worked together to gap the field.

In the final couple laps down to Stefano and me and we traded off pulling up the climb (me) and down the descent (Stefano).  It was especially fun because Stefano is a professor of physics at UCSC and we frequent the same weekday training rides (when I don't have class).

He is incredibly strong and we both had our families cheering on the sidelines.  I was determined not to botch the 2-up sprint and gave it everything I had up the last pitch to the end.

Sprinting for the win, on the hoods.

Sprinting for the win, on the hoods.

It was a super fun race and great training for things to come.

[caption id="attachment_7353" align="aligncenter" width="533"]
First and Second after the race, good times!  THANKS to Tesla Profumo for snapping these pictures!
First and Second after the race, good times!
THANKS to Tesla Profumo for snapping these pictures![/caption]

Thanks for reading see you in March!

"And, your old too!" Phil Mooney yelled while simultaneously showing me his middle finger as he rolled away.

Let me start from the beginning.

After reading some Facebook stuff, I brought it up with Phil after the lunch ride that we had too many people registered at Snelling and we needed fewer. When I was done talking, he said "OK, and.."

Me- "So we should do something about it now!"

P- "OK, your off the team."

Me- "But I'm the face of the team"

P- "No, that would be HD, your too ugly"

Me- "The bad boy of the team?"

P- "Nope that's Kessler"

Me-"The new guy, the dark-horse?"

P- "That would be Sam Cerruti"

Me-"The crazy/weird guy who everyone likes?"


Me- "What about that time I sharpened the pencils for the Hotel survey, that's got to count for something!"

P- "Sorry, we need to have less guys at Snelling."

Me-"Fine! I'll go join a team and rival you guys then!" Then Phil flipped me off, said what he had to say and rode off into the sunset.

So, I called Roman and asked about being on Mikes. He told me to meet him by "the duck pond" and hung up. I found a duck pond and waited for several hours, but he never showed. While I was waiting I called AJ Kennedy about getting on Vuluminati. He said I hurt his feelings too much to help me out, and like Roman, he hung up on me.

What to do now?
(adapted from my own blog)