Marc Pro - Strava

Cycling Team

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December marks the time of year where training is arguably the most fun. The holiday season is nearby, many of our friends have some time off from work, and training participation among racers is as high as can be. It is the time of year when the leaves are on the ground, there's a nip in the air, and that feeling of "next year" seems to be creeping up. Motivation to ride, lose weight, and most of all have fun on epic routes seems to be easy enough to come by. Most of all, it is the time of year where riders of different levels can generally ride together, making long days on the bike into fun ones. Marc Pro - Strava decided to take advantage of some of Northern California's beautiful December weather for a weekend, and host a "Mini Camp" out of El Dorado Hills.

We spent day 1 having a short, but fun, 2 hour ride through the El Dorado Hills, Cameron Park, and Shingle Springs area. We sampled a number of great Herbalife products along the ride, such as Prolong and Hydrate, and rode with new Team Director Phil Mooney, who showed us all that apparently you can just avoid training in general and continue to ride well. We met our new teammate Sam Cerruti who is now the youngest rider on the team, and hazed him accordingly. The ride route can be seen on Strava here: http://www.strava.com/activities/229108683

That's right - we went slow.

We all knew that even though this was a "Mini" Camp, Team Captain Justin Rossi and Director Phil Mooney were not going to let us get away with three days of riding easy. The next two would be rough.

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Photo Credit: Alex Chiu

Day 2 was absolutely great. It was especially great because we welcomed on one of our 2015 sponsors, Folsom Bike, by leading a ride from the shop. Both myself and teammate Jared Kessler are employees of Folsom Bike, so this ride was attended by many of our own friends as well as other shop affiliates. We could not take a proper December training ride without first fueling up with some coffee, and what better place than Folsom Grind!

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Photo Credit: Alex Chiu

After coffee and some social time, we met up out front for a group photo, filled our bottles with some new Herbalife products for hydration, and took off for 85 miles and a whole lot of elevation gain.

We rolled out from Folsom Bike with about 65 riders, headed into the foothills for epic climbs like Bayne Road, Rock Creek Road, and Mosquito Road. The plan was to ride steady tempo, with the exception of three different pre-determined Strava segments which would be an all out race. Salmon Falls Rd from "The Bridge to the Rhino" was 1st, Bayne Road was 2nd, and the Rock Creek Road climb was 3rd.

Thoroughbreds Jonathan Teeter and Justin Rossi riding the front of the 65 rider group.

Thoroughbreds Jonathan Teeter and Justin Rossi trying to hold back while riding the front of the 65 rider group. Ever seen a race horse going into the gate? Teeter's face tells all what that may be like. Photo Credit: Alex Chiu

Within the first hour, Strava segment number one arrived. The group split on the first rise, and continued to splinter up the climb from that point on.

Jared Kessler pulling a classic "Kessler". Wheelie during the hard part.

Jared Kessler pulling a classic "Kessler". Wheelie during the hard part. Photo Credit: Alex Chiu

The group now only consists of a few riders. Willie Meyers is displaying raw power as a sprinter taking a pull during a hard section of the climb.

The group now only consists of a few riders. Willie Myers is displaying raw power as a sprinter taking a pull during a hard section of the climb. Photo Credit: Alex Chiu

On the final rise to the top: Only Chris HD, Willie Meyers, and about 1/2 of Chuck Hutcheson remain.

On the final rise to the top: Only Chris HD, Willie Myers, and about 1/2 of Chuck Hutcheson remain. Photo Credit: Alex Chiu

Track sprinter and underdog Willie Myers took the sprint to the top, laying down the climb of his life, a foreshadowing of what is to come in the 2015 season. The segment can be found here on Strava: http://www.strava.com/segments/633964?filter=overall

Chris Stastny and Evan Huffman giving the climb absolutely everything they had to give..... Only to find out they were minutes behind Myers. Ok.. maybe not everything

Chris Stastny and Evan Huffman giving the climb absolutely everything they had to give..... Only to find out they were minutes behind Myers. Ok.. maybe not everything... Photo Credit: Alex Chiu

Bayne Road came and went, and quite frankly, I think everyone who did the ride would be glad to just not think about that road again. With an average gradient of 14%, peak sections are in the mid 20's. The group far from in tact by the time the top was near.

The rewards of Bayne bring on some of the most beautiful riding in our area. The Rock Creek Road climb was next up, and the fun had only just begun. Fireworks went off on that climb as well, leaving the group splintered. Team Director Phil Mooney decided to get out of the team car and push the pedals, so he and his fresh legs hit the climb ready. He began by riding off the front and calling out Josh Carling - challenging him to a mano y mano battle up the climb. Josh took the offer and bridged up to Phil, and Phil dropped back shortly after. After a period of separation the two rejoined near the top, and traded attacks until they both could go no longer.

Phil talking strategy with the team car, deciding how to catch Josh up the road.
Phil talking strategy with the team car, deciding how to catch Josh up the road. Photo Credit: Alex Chiu
Phil and Josh trading attacks, pain faces in full effect.

Phil and Josh trading attacks, pain faces in full effect. Photo Credit: Alex Chiu

After the climb, the group descended into Placerville, and headed back down to Folsom to end the day. Marc Pro - Strava Riders went back to the team house to recover, eat, and talk about goals for the 2015 race season. We sat around with our Marc Pro's on, drank Herbalife Rebuild mix, and Chuck Hutcheson showed me that he knows how to play pool better than I do. He made jokes about the fact that I should be better at geometry, while I made a few of my own about why he might be so good at billiards. A link to the ride on  Strava is here:http://www.strava.com/activities/229108755/overview

Day 3 was quite unusual for Marc Pro - Strava.... For some of us, it was unusual in a good way. For the first time in team history, a flat ride was completed. The sprinters rejoiced, the climbers complained, and all was well in the universe. We set out to do a "Garden Highway Loop", leaving the foothills to ride in the valley along the Sacramento River. The route was mapped at a daunting 120 miles, surely to crack us all as we started with tired legs. Phil had planned for us to paceline and work on riding long and hard as a team all day. (Cue in Chuck Hutcheson with - "That's what she said") The team rode well together, and covered the 120 mile loop in good time. Check out the magnitude of this thing: (Chuck?) http://www.strava.com/activities/229535694/overview

Also photo's from Saturday's ride were taken by Alex Chiu, and a link to the photos is available here: http://acaurora.smugmug.com/Events/2014-12-13-Marc-Pro-Ride/

Overall, the Mini Camp was a great weekend and a huge success. Thanks to all who came out to the Saturday ride to make it the fun day that it was! We will be hosting our formal team training camp sometime in February, so be on the lookout for that. Beware, your Strava KOM's will likely be stolen. Thanks for reading!

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This is part 2. Part 1 of the story is right below this one and you should read it first. Here is a link: http://marcpro-strava.com/blog/2014/10/17/tobago-or-how-i-learned-to-stop-worrying-and-just-go-with-it-part-1-of-2/ Sunday was the UCI race, the main reason I came to Tobago. The course is only 115 km, but the winning time is generally around 3.5 hours and there is something like 12,000 ft of climbing. The first 20km were basically flat and I just chilled in the group trying to keep my heart rate as low as possible. When we approached the start/finish line from Wednesday, I knew the climbing was about to begin and a train of us from PSL/Well Services all moved up together. The first uphill was a steep wall for a few hundred meters. The group hit it really hard and since I started in the front, I had the luxury of drifting backwards a bit and saving my legs. The moment it leveled out a bit I moved right back into the front. Over the next 20 km I proceeded to place myself exactly when I wanted at all times. I would move up before the little downhills, drift back when I wanted to save it a bit, and generally be in the perfect spot at all times. Whenever I have been able to do that, I have had great results because you can just save so much energy, but you have to have the legs and confidence to be able to pull it off. It seemed like I had both that day. Everyone was suffering around me and the group was shrinking constantly, but I was in a comfortable place.

I overheard Emile Abraham, a local, telling his Incycle/Predator team mate that the first long downhill was approaching. Knowing how much this race could split on the downhills I moved up to 4th wheel. On one of the first corners of the downhill I see the lead rider just slide out, the second rider went off the road trying to avoid it. I braked and slowed down to what I thought was a really safe speed given the tightness of the corner, but no. Before I knew what happened I was lying on the ground, still clipped in, perpendicular to the road. There must have been oil on the road, because it was dry and I was really barely turning. Amazingly no one ran into me and the field slowly picked its way around me as I lay on the ground.

Because the downhill was fairly steep and I was basically not turning, I fell a surprisingly long way. I knew pretty quickly that something was wrong, I managed to unclip and crawl over to the side of the road, but I was fairly sure I had broken my upper femur. Roger, Pete, and our mechanic Blackie, jumped out of the car and were trying to get me going, but I knew I wasn't getting up. They flagged down the race ambulance and Pete stayed with me while Roger and Blackie took my bike and got back into the caravan. The ambulance was really primitive, they had no pain meds, not even ibuprofen or Tylenol. The leg really didn't hurt if it was still, but felt like someone was stabbing me anytime it moved. As they were attempting to move me onto a board to load me into the back, Eric Losak came around the corner and almost slid out himself. He had flatted earlier and was just riding the course out to finish. He's an EMT back home and did wonders to help me stabilize my leg with the use of a towel. He helped get me into the ambulance and was going to come with me, but I told him to keep going. Pete was staying with me and that was enough. The drive to the hospital was horrible, the roads are bad and twisty and they were driving really fast and not smoothly. Pete was trying to hold my legs to stop them moving, but it was basically impossible.

We got to the hospital, they did some X-Rays, but they were pretty poor quality so it was hard to tell what was up. They did a CAT scan, and that confirmed that I had a clean fracture of my greater trochanter. There was no orthopedic surgeon on Tobago, so they offered to medivac me to Trinidad, but that still seemed like a poor idea. Luckily I had bough trip insurance, so finally at about 8pm we got in touch with the insurance company and set up a medivac back to Florida for Monday morning.

Medivac to Florida

Medivac to Florida

A nurse and a paramedic showed up at the hospital ER at 9 am, where I had been basically ignored by hospital staff for most of 24 hours. Pete brought me dinner and I finally got them to give me some breakfast at like 8:30. The Tobago ambulance again drove way too fast and rough for my broken leg, but at least this time I had some heavy drugs to help. The medivac plane was a Leer jet with 2 pilots. So they flew 4 staff out from Florida to meet me. Thankfully the insurance is covering that whole bill.

Inside they did the opposite of the Tobagan hospital, I was on an EKG, blood pressure, O2 monitor and they even gave me supplemental oxygen.

Inside the plane on O2

Inside the plane on O2

By the time we got to Broward General Medical Center it was about 3pm and I was going to have to wait until Tuesday to get surgery. Unfortunately, they didn't decide this for 4 more hours while I got another round of X-Rays. So I missed dinner and I basically had to flight the nurse's assistant to get me more food because I had missed dinner. She was someone trying to make it seem like it was my fault for arriving in the hospital ward after dinner time (4:30pm apparently). Eventually I got a couple of sandwiches and some graham crackers and that was going to have to tide me over until after Tuesday's 1pm surgery. I'm pretty sure I lost a few lbs in that 2 day period.

The surgery was much more invasive than I thought it was going to be. I have a 7in incision with 17 staples holding it together in my leg now. But already after a day an a half I could get around the ward on a walker. By Friday I was ready to go home and was fairly comfortable on crutches, but the travel insurance company insisted that I needed a nurse chaperon, so I had to wait until Saturday. At least they flew me first class and I got to hang out in the Delta lounge before my flight.

Delta Skyclub. Terrible photo.

Delta Skyclub. Terrible photo.

The flight home was uneventful and I was really happy to get home. Now its been ten days since surgery and I am making big gains every day. I can put a bit of pressure on my broken leg, I don't take pain meds and my range of motion is increasing daily. My quad flexibility is still quite limited, but 17 staples in my IT band probably have a bit to do with that. I've been running my MARC PRO pretty much constantly and its made a world of difference, almost eliminating the swelling and helping keep my leg from atrophy. I have a follow up appointment in a few days, but I'm pretty confident that this isn't going to affect my 2015 season too badly. My first real goal isn't until late April, and I'm confident that 6 months is more than enough time to get back to full strength. Either way, there is no use worrying about it and just take it one day at a time.

One thing this has allowed me to do is focus on starting a coaching business. I have so many years of racing, training, and experimenting under my belt that I am confident in creating a balanced, advanced program for athletes of all ability levels. Check me out at MaxPerformanceCoach.com and be ready to have your best year ever in 2015.

At the start of September I was invited to travel to Tobago in the Caribbean in to compete in a 4 day omnium followed by the hilliest one day UCI race possible. The trip was late September and early October, and the UCI race was technically the first race of the 2015 calendar so the winner automatically leads the UCI America's tour for at least a week. I was going to race for a local team called PSL/Well Services, but we would all be international riders, and I would be the only American. The prospect of a hilly UCI race with a fairly average field and a cheap trip to the Caribbean was too much to refuse, so I went for it.

My flight there was pretty simple on Friday SFO- Fort Lauderdale, overnight in Florida, and then a short hop to Trinidad on Saturday morning. I decided to get a hotel, despite only having an 8 hour layover, and I managed to catch a few hours of sleep. In the morning I hit up an American institution, one that we just don't have in NorCal:

Dunkin Doughnuts. Sorry for the terrible quality photo.

Dunkin Doughnuts. Sorry for the terrible quality photo.

When I landed in Trinidad, I breezed through customs, came out of the airport, to find no one waiting for me. I tried to get in touch with people from the team, but not having any Trinidad numbers to call and having to replies to my previous email, I didn't have much choice but to wait around. Finally about 50 minutes later someone showed up and took me to our accommodations in Trinidad. I met some of the guys, and the people running the team, mainly Pete Sue and Roger Farrell. I also met our main sponsor, Desmond. I decided to skip waking up at 5am to do a crit Sunday and just went on a few easy rides to get the legs back together.

Catamaran ferry made the journey to Tobago quick and smooth

Catamaran ferry made the journey to Tobago quick and smooth

Monday morning we had another crazy early wake up, getting up at 4am to sit around and get onto a 6:30am ferry to Tobago. By noon we got to our final destination for the week, Crown Point Resort in Tobago, right on the beach at the west end of the island. I did a quick ride and then hit the beach. It was great.

The first race was Tuesday afternoon, a fairly flat 110km road race. The race was fairly normal, I attacked to get into a few dangerous looking moves, but in the end the winning break was only two riders who attacked a bit group of 10 that I was in and dangled at 10 seconds long enough for everyone else to just give up. The interesting part was the course control, or lack thereof. You had to keep your head up constantly because cars would stop in the strangest places, like in an intersection cars were just stopped like they would normal do for a red light, not off to the side. So we had to swerve from the left side of the road, to the right, and back to the left in the space of about 100m. In Trinidad and Tobago they drive on the left side of the road, a British colonial legacy.

Team kit for the week. Stocked to be on Jakroo, even their entry level products fit great

Team kit for the week. Stocked to be on Jakroo, even their entry level products fit great!

The second race was Wednesday morning and really hilly. The start was delayed by about 20 minutes because a few police motor bikes had not arrived. After 20 minutes, they gave up waiting and just started us anyway. The course was constantly up and down and the downhills were all technical, sharp turns, random gravel section, potholes, and occasional cars. The race exploded on the first downhill but a French team mate, Auriel and I made the front group and proceeded to sit on the back of a Michael Olheiser time trial for 2 hours. Olheiser's team mate on Incycle/Predator had won the day before so his team was controlling the race. I was still having some issues with the heat and humidity, and started having minor twinges of cramp after only one hour of racing. Knowing I was going to be in trouble by the end, I tried to spin as much as possible.  The group kept shrinking, but Auriel and I kept with it. Starting the final lap, it was down to 8 riders as Olheiser was finally done and it was just the omnium leader left for Predator. The second hill of the lap was super steep and my cramps hit me hard. I got gapped off the group, but kept fighting and came back at the end of the next downhill. As soon as I got on the back of the group, I attacked, just to see what would happen. I kept the pressure on during the downhill and when we hit the next climb the group was down to 5 riders with Auriel looking pretty. I immediately cramped super hard and could barely make my legs turn so got passed by two riders I had just dropped. I pedaled as much as I could, with only one leg sometimes, and held on for 7th. Auriel, however, was super and attacked on the last little hill and held on to win solo by 30 seconds.

Thursday was a rest day, yes, there was a rest day in a 4 day omnium. In the morning the organizers threw together a bike parade, which was an hour of this:

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In the afternoon, they threw us a beach party, including jet skis, some podium girls, and all the booze you can drink. Some of the Euro guys got super rowdy.

Waiting to ride the jetskis

Waiting to ride the jet skis

Friday was a crit, but it was also dumping rain. Hearing all sorts of bad things about the course I decided to forgo the event, but I rode out there to see it anyway. Riding in an 80 degree deluge is actually kind of fun, but the course did look slippery, most of my team mates pulled out after only one lap and only maybe 20 riders actually finished the race.

Saturday was another crit, in the main city on Tobago, Scarborough. It was a pretty standard crit, I moved up with some of my team mates, we kept each other up front, while Incycle/Predator continued to ride the front the whole time. My team mate Thibault, who spent some time racing in NorCal last August doing Dunningan, Winters, Vacaville, among others, attacked solo 8 laps to go. He stayed out there for 5 laps and just as I was about to counterattack his move, his brother Mathieu attacked on the other side of the field with another rider. They got really close, but got caught with 2 turns to go. I proceeded to get caught up behind a crash in the same corner and soft pedaled easy to the finish.

My legs were feeling pretty super, with no sign of the cramps from earlier in the week. I was ready for the UCI race, and based on my performance on Stage 2 with cramping, I knew I had a great chance to win....

Come back tomorrow for the conclusion of the story.

Pulling up to the Oakland Grand Prix I saw my team mates, Ariel, Max, Willie and Matt Chat.  They looked straight gangsta. We were clearly the toughest spandex element this town has ever seen.  I pulled my bike out, put my sunglasses on, then pumped this song:

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Phil Roberts

Start of race. Photo from Phil Roberts of the Cycles Fanatic Factory Racing Team

(this race report is written to Too $horts "Life is too Short, so read it while you play the song) I remember how it all began
I used to do this crit in East Oakland
Back then I knew ya couldn't stop that sprint
Pulled my bars so hard that they bent
Then the new style came, the race got faster
Got in today's break with a crit master
Do ya wanna pull or get caught?
Pulled damn hard it hurt alot
People wanna say it's just my time
Racers like me had to work for mine
Eight riders on Team Mike's and I'm not jokin'
Including Kilun comin' straight from Oakland
California, home of the rock
Eight Mike's in the crit, beatin' down the block
Chuck dog, I'm that racin' man
I said it before and I 'll say it again

Life is too short
Too short
Life is too short

The field chased us till it was unbearable
But the pulls we took were just terrible
Rob Evans didn't pull too much, nothing' big
Thought he was saving it up to give it a dig
Giant Bike's my main asset
I be doin' all right and keep it just like that
Chill out in the break and pump that bass
Not getting rich but I am trying to place
Every racerss got that same old dream
To win crit money and fancy things
Ride a brand new Bike, keep the field right here
Never hear me stutter once because I talk real clear
It's on you, homeboy, watcha gonna do?
You can take my advice and start attackin', fool
Or you can close your ears and run your mouth
And one day, homeboy, ya soon find out

Life is too short
Too short
Life is too short

The final laps the break couldn't agree
Two Mike's Bikes started attacking me
Chased a bunch of times so they didn't get away
Got no Help from Rob Evans or Stephen Cabebe
Cause I don't stop racin', that's my theme
Gonna chase till I crack, do you know what I mean?
One lap to go ya must stay up
Hold that wheel, don't say "What?"
Its only one lap and ya callin' it hell
Please don't take me into a hay bail
We gave Dana a gap man cause we didn't know
In a matter of time he was winning the show
I tried to catch to be on top
3rd to 2nd I made the hop
Screwed it up on the last last lap
Turn around, homeboy, ya better watch your back
that's it

This may be the toughest photo ever taken in Oakland

This may be the toughest photo ever taken in Oakland.  Photo from Mike's Bikes

After the Race Team Mikes hosted a Barbecue. Good times, its great to be back racing.  Next post may be written to Leonard Bernstein's "West Side Story."

Photo from Alex Chiu

Photo from Alex Chiu