• Madera Madness

    by  • April 15, 2008 • race coverage • 10 Comments

    it’s a sickness … untreatable.

    and gots a few pics of day1

    – – –

    Madera Women’s Elite

    promowomens.jpgIt bugs me that i only get to see little snippets of the racing at events like Madera. It’s a pretty hectic race weekend with a 3 stages tucked into 48 hrs (or 4 in 72 if you’re racing the Men’s proseys) ~ so you’re on the go most of the time. Still, i was a bad BellaBoy and snuck off from my role as nubian-trainer-slave to hunker under a tree and scope out how the Women’s p1/2 opening criterium shook down.

    I couldn’t believe how many starters there were for the crit this year! What a great field of locals showing up and putting on exploits. I know Madera is a bit of a change from the big-name, large and in-charge cha-chingblingbling races of the Central Valley spring NRC/HWY 99 Series(es) … but it’s still a hoot and a holler if you don’t mind scaling back to grassroots racing.

    prowomens.jpgThe Elite women went right to it with Cheerwine bubbling out there normal effervescence of attacks. This is a team that loves to animate races on the local or national scene. It is a cracking squad that have made a name for themselves not only as a sprinter’s team (VanGilder), but also one chock full of strong-willed attacking machines .

    In contrast to Cheerwine’s frenetic jumps off the front at Madera was Webcor’s stalwart, Bev Harper, throwing herself on the sword a dozen times over to chase down dangerous moves for her teammate, Christine ‘goddess of the clock’ Thorburn. But the Madera crit this year saw a bit too much aggression and eventually a break with all the major teams represented but PROMAN stormed off the front.

    womenomadera.jpgThe move went with more than a few laps remaining ~ so, whether the break would stick or not was in question for the entirety of their effort. It made for some great spectating and tense riding as PROMAN/Webcor drove the pack to chase down the break in the final few moments. Hammering the break like their life depended on it was Touchstones new hardcharger Olivia Dillon, EastonSugarCRM’s rising star Brianne Burgess, Cheerwine’s assassin of the attack Sarah Bamberger, and weewittleJenJoynt of MetroMint.

    The break rotated well with Dillon, Burgess, and Bamberger doing what looked to be the majority of the work. You can’t really blame the MetroMint rider for sitting on … as she’s all of 12 pounds left wet … but, Bamberger can’t be called much bigger and that woman is a pounding beast on the hills AND the flats.

    Dillon and Burgess were completely committed to the break and heaped on power with utter abandon. Bamberger was, without doubt, the favorite for the stage win ~ but all four riders were in the mix and looking to eek out any seconds possible to cushion themselves from time gains the TT artists would put into them during the afternoon’s 2nd stage.

    webcorchasers.jpgThe final minutes would continue to see Webcor chase with help from PROMAN’s Cooper and Ligler … but they could only get within a handful of seconds as the bell lap rang. And of course, almost on cue ~ Virginia Perkins shot out of the pack like a cannon. That final lap bell signaled a massive acceleration by the PROMAN rider to try and bring down the gap to the break. The field would string out significantly from the speed, but the 4 riders would keep a small gap and fight it out for the stage win. Bamberger met expectations and launched a pro-level sprint to win by bike lengths. Burgess was 2nd, and Joynt would end up throwing her bike past Dillon for 3rd.

    Bamberger’s teammate, Kelly Benjamin, would take the field sprint for 5th … just ahead of a valiant Perkins and the ever-ready Amanda Eaken of MetroMint.

    Good race.

    Thorburn would then sta-omp the TT … showing us all how the scientists push themselves into the deep. She and Harper would then defend well in the RR and take home the GC. I believe Benjamin won the road race, making it two stage wins for Cheerwine and the TT and GC to Webcor.

    damn good race.

    – – –

    Madera Women’s 35+

    ladies35.jpgBest tactical racing of the weekend – period. The Velo Bellas tried to take wood to Dawn Neisser and her ProTech Racing gals … but those ladies in black defended well and Neisser earned herself a well-deserved GC victory.

    The criterium at Madera is always a gamble. It’s a double-stage day, so if you’re in one of the waves that flies the crit first … you can absolutely burn yourself to a cinder and have little-to-no antifreeze left in the system for that sufferfest of a TT later in the 90 degree afternoon.

    The crit course is a very, very long and flat affair. It’s relatively non-technical, but does have a train-tracks crossing that caused more than a few flats during the day. There are enough safe lines over those buried rails, but if you take one of the baddies … it’s a quick trip to the pit for you! And, having a few chunks of discarded glass on the circuit doesn’t help, eh?

    jans.jpgAnyway, the Women’s 35+ category is moving in the direction that the Men’s 35+ have been traveling ~ namely, that of building high-quality fields of safe, strong, experienced riders that have moved through the NorCal ranks and know what it means to have fun and race fierce. A lot of folks were commenting this weekend about how much enjoyment the master’s events have been generating recently … wide-open, friendly, and competitive racing. You can’t ask for much more than that.

    Velo Bella took it to the TT riders in the crit, moving themselves off the front in attacking groups. ProTech was quiet for most of the stage, sitting at the back and saving matches … but there was an extremely dangerous move late in the race with solo rider LauriFenech and VeloBellas Andi Smith, Erika Donald, and Sue Lovecchio. Throughout the stage, EastonSugarCRM’s Holly Roberts did a TON of chasing, but late in the crit saw ProTech rally and bring the break back. It was a well pedaled field sprint to finish out the day ~ I’ve got video of it that i’ll upload soon.

    Neisser destroyed on the afternoon TT, putting in a barn burner of a ride that rocketed her into the GC lead by almost 2 minutes. The Velo Bella women put her and her team to the test, though … from first lap on. Unfortunately, a freak pothole crash took down Erika Donald and Pam Davis of Webcor early on. That was a real shame, but if you got a look at that wicked pothole that took them down? you’d understand.

    bellas.jpgImmediately stopping to make sure Pam was ok was Doc Soni and Linda Locke of Velo Bella. See what i’m talking about? good people in these masters races. Everyone was ok, but that was 4 riders and 3 VB’s out of the race. Up front, it turned to Sabine Dukes and Laura Sanchez to launch big attacks in the “cobbles” to force a chase by ProTech.

    Immediately upon hitting the rollers, Velo Bellas tactics continued with a vicious counter attack by Andi Smith, and after the first roller, Sue Lovecchio jumped across with forever young LauriFenech with her. These three would press the pace hard for the next 2 laps, but Neisser and her ProTech team rallied huge and kept the time gap under 2 minutes to secure a very well earned GC win. Fenech would outsprint the Velo Bellas for the stage win ~ a nice compensation for a rider who ALWAYS wants to ride hard and smile while doing it.

    bravo, ladies.

    – – –

    Madera Geezers

    Well, the 45s and 35s are really almost one category nowadays. And since half the 55+ guys crushed my sack in the TT, too … sheeet, we might as well just have one big race for us all.

    … but then again, i’d lose more often ~ so, nix that idea.

    The 45s was a story of TT maniacs. John Novitsky took the GC win by hammering out an impressive low 22min effort against the clock and then withstanding the onslaught of attacks in the road race. Bubba Melcher was 2nd by a second, they say … and that’s a pretty amazing result by Novitsky because we all know the kind of form Melcher is in right now. Hat’s off.

    And hat’s off to my VOS’mates who went full guns blazing to try and snap off the winning break in Sunday’s sufferfest. Great racing.

    The 55s was all about Larry Wolff of Webcor staying out in front of the hammer Hennessey. The criterium was a bit of a fiasco for the 55s, as they just lucked out with the 45s catching them in the final lap. There was some field swapping and that is always a bad decision by everyone involved. Hopefully we’ll work better at being disciplined with ourselves and not falling into that trap. ah well.

    The road race was a surprise combine of the 45s and 55s … which negated a lot of the potential tactics to be played out by the 55 field. It’s a shame and something similar happened in the Women’s p1/2 and 3 fields. ah well … you’ve got to roll with the punches and take what the race gives.

    superspecial.jpgIn the 35s ~ well, it was a day to tilt at windmills. TeamSpecializedRacing took 11 guys to the start line … and we pretty much made every one of them earn their team’s inevitable GC win. Last year it was a hardman break that saw Mic Hellman win the GC over me by a few seconds. I’m kind of bummed i didn’t put more attacks in last year to try and win it outright … but, Mick’s pretty much the coolest guy around so you aren’t really able to muster up all that much mean-mojo propulsion against him. which sucks.

    But THIS YEAR, since they brought out the full fleet … there was all kinds of inspiration to try and crack those buggers. JeffPoulsen, ShannonthePike, and i tried a few cards in the crit on Saturday … but most of our efforts were solely to try and sap out some of the power their team would uncork in the TT a couple hours later.

    it didn’t work.

    Specialized is the best masters team in the nation right now. Hands down. And they have half a dozen national caliber TT riders.

    so we hate them.

    Luckily, they look pretty silly in their big red “S” kits … so, that at least makes me want to voodoo-doll them a bit less. Anyway, the TT went as expected with the red armada taking the top 400 places. It meant the same as always, the real showdown would take place on the road race course. And what a beautiful bit of hellfire everybody unleashed out there.

    The attacks started immediately. Well, actually ~ we delayed our real start by 5 minutes as we all waited for Clover’s Chad Timmerman to change a flat he got in the first few seconds of our neutral promenade (i love that word … promenade… sounds like a gay fruit). Our group stopped to have a tinkle and luckily, Chad made it back to the pack just as we saw the field starting behind us start to ramble up from behind. No worries, we hit the gas full-throttle and didn’t stop until the finish line hit.

    yippee for bike racing!

    We VOS’ers lost our Pike-man to illness, so it was just Jeffe and I to match wits with the other kids. Our goal was simple ~ since i had trashed the TT something ugly, our only real hope was to whittle down the Specialized fleet with so many attacks that they’d maybe let a couple of their GC guys go with a move that Jeff could sneak in. The best we could do was get Jeffe up spots in GC and maybe hunt a stage win ta’boot.

    specialchase.jpgLast lap, and sure enough ~ Jeffe is driving a small group up the road. Specialized has Roemer and Innes in it … so i figure there’s a chance their Team will let it go. But alas, both the REDS and San Jose chased the move down. Damn fine effort put in by the armada as Hellman had flatted in the cobbles and 4 teammies were sent back to make sure he hauled it back to the group. Ah well …. all was caught and we prepped for the field sprint finish. Jeffe still almost pulled of a coup with a 2nd in the sprint to that bigmuscle Nolan.

    Just fine, in my book. Just fine.

    – – –

    Madera Proseys

    1224.jpgyup … it was a pretty good weekend all around. James Mattis unleashed his TT demons, apparently … putting himself into the GC slot with some firm authority. Their afternoon crit was a solid affair, with notable performances from KatCarroll as she put the stomp down in a closing moments acceleration. Winning the crit might have been that young debutante, Andy Goessling. He is yet another product of our NorCal HighSchool Mtb League … class of 2007.

    hell yeah, and right on.

    The road race might have been won by BMC’s Glavin … but, i can’t be bothered to find out for sure. Word is that Joel Robertson put in some hurt and was joined up late by his teammie Vince Owens. Vinny is a very, very talented young man who might be able to punch his way into the American Pro circuit here in the next couple of years. He’s almost ready.

    Mattis and Moore were the only Giant Strawberries in the field, i think … so, it was left to the chicks to defend James’ GC win. So, KatMattis and KatCarroll went nutz on the tempo front and kept the M&M boys rested enough to hold off all the pretenders. Good for them … every one of them.

    – – – – –

    ah well … sorry had to rush this out, but gots to get back on the clock.

    lates and see you at the next one,



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    10 Responses to Madera Madness

    1. chatterbox
      April 15, 2008 at

      wow! thanks for the great reportage. It is a bummer not to be able to watch all the other fields while I am racing!

    2. Ippoc Amic
      April 15, 2008 at

      thanks Michael for the women’s 35+ race report…I’d swear you were there with us…A big time thanks to chief ref Tom D. for separating all the fields ensuring fun and relatively safe racing for all…Tuesday doctor’s report have Pam and Erika doing ok…And, Phyllis O. of Webcor in the 35s instantly turned around to tend to her fallen teammate …

    3. Sufferin' P
      April 15, 2008 at

      Pro 1/2 road race was won by “Nebraska” Tim Farnham of NorCal Bike Sport. This follows a 3rd at Santa Cruz, another W in the circuit race at San Dimas, and, most importantly, 2nd place in the Chileno Valley Grasshopper – behind Levi and in front of Scott Nydam. None too shabby for a Cornhusker!

    4. April 15, 2008 at

      “Specialized is the best masters team in the nation right now. Hands down. And they have half a dozen national caliber TT riders.

      so we hate them.”

      = ) Its impossible to hate guys like Larry.

    5. marscat
      April 16, 2008 at

      thanks michael…you’ve had a big impact on our 35+ group!

    6. Joel
      April 16, 2008 at

      Yep, Tim did win the Road Race and put in a great, honest effort for the entire 84 miles of loneliness….

    7. April 16, 2008 at

      Hey, thanks for the shout out. I gotta hand it to the Bellas, they MADE the race. The team tactics had all of us busting our butts just to keep up, and it helped make our race super interesting (and a boatload of fun).
      It had previously occurred to me that I was expending too many matches in the crit, but I figured WTF. I did Madera for fitness only. I buried myself in the finish of the crit, further buried myself in the TT and had nothing left on Sunday. But I had the best time I’ve had in a long time.
      Hernando, glad you overcame the heat exhaustion. Bleah!

    8. Michael Hernandez
      April 17, 2008 at

      you rocked that crit, Holly.

      well done and quite sexy!

    9. Pam Davis
      April 17, 2008 at

      Hey there phast women. I just want to give a shout out to the Women’s 35+ field at Madera. What a pleasure it is to race with such a lovely and strong group of gals. None of that braking-in-the-corners, squealing close calls stuff at all in the crit. Just good, clean, fast lines. And when Erika and I went down on the RR course, the moto ref said that the peleton was soft pedaling to see if I could get up and race to defend my second on GC position. Classy, classy stuff. But that wasn’t all. After the crash I got a very nice escort back to the feed zone from my super domestique teammate Phyllis and Bellas Soni and Linda. I’m ok; just maybe a bruised or cracked rib per my doctor. (See http://www.jpimages.biz for the photos of my butt and lots of great stuff on the crit and ITT.) Great sportswomanship and fierce racing all round. Well done!
      Thanks again for everything, and I can’t wait until next year.

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