Chileno Valley Grasshopper ~ my, oh my … what a fun time
It’s not often that everyday weekend warriors get a chance to line up next to professional cyclists for an 80 mile, 8K of climbing hammerfest … but, that’s what the Grasshopper folks offer us once in awhile.
The Grasshopper series of training rides are the stomping grounds of many a diehard who may not pin race numbers on jerseys all that often, but most certainly know how to enter the pain cave and start decorating like they mean to stay. The Grasshoppers are where quite a few good-natured smackdowns of NorCal bragging rights are fought out … with the road events being but one part of the real party.
This particular Grasshopper was an excellent fundraiser for Ross Dillon and his family – survivors of inattentive drivers on our roads and a cruel medical insurance system.
Good cause, and feel free keep the donations flowing.
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Veronika Lenzi was out on the course taking a sweet line of fotos ~ and you should always take time to view things through that woman’s eyes ~ her lense captures more of a moment than you’d think possible. And remember, there’s access to those memories delivered to your doorstep with a few clicks and a smattering of bucks.
This image is of the one and only Curtis Inglis popping some hooptie on a climb. I can’t believe I was lucky enough to be out riding next to a legendary framebuilder like Inglis, a kickass artist like Jeff Hantman, and a world renowned crotch-blogger like BethNewell.
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Bissell hardman, Paul Mach, pinched out a quick quarter-report narrating how the front end of things shook down through those painful climbs and mind-numbing headwinds of Santa Rosa … making note of how pretty boy BJM, Wohlberg the Wolverine, canada RobBritton, and the two Giant StarBerries Talansky&Berrilleaux throttled each other for 3.5 hours.
It was a great ride by Talansky … only 22 years old and screaming with potential ~ out of the hooks of that Amore-Vita nonsense and riding with the Giant Berries. He’ll get good looks at some of the best racing in the US, and be able to take home a few bucks in prize money this year. Joining him off the front was 25-year old teammate, Jared Barrilleux (Barry-Oh!) … one cowboy of a rider that always pleases crowds with his ability to suffer and willingness to throw himself out in front of a bike race.
These two young men have the luxury of being on a top-notch squad that offers a size-able stepping stone to moving on to bigger and better things in cycling. Well done and we’ll see.
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Speaking of bigger and better …
The Bissell squad is absolutely the best run and most stable US-domestic professional squad on the scene today. Their media pushes are organized well, timed for effectiveness, and successfully assist the riders to brand Bissell in the minds of cyclists and fans across the country.
This year’s squad will be formidable with the addition of some key riders. It’s hard to say that Daniel Holloway will have a breakout year – just because he’s already had national and international success as a US criterium champion and 6-day track specialist in Europe. But, with a powerful squad behind him hungry for sprint wins … this will be a year when Hollywood will not only be a legitimate contender for field sprints, but also a year cementing him as a rider who knows how to bring the show.
Cycling is a sport of characters … of riders we want to watch, want to follow, want to support. Holloway has the potential to be one of those riders with his brash but likeable demeanor – and this year’s Bissell squad has the elements to exploit that kind of young bravado, while also keeping both feet on the ground through experience and maturity.
Bissell has the seasoned intelligence and leadership of Ben Jacques-Maynes. But they also have the raw animalistic power of his brother Andy JM. They’ve got the quick and surgical accelerations of a rider like Cody O’Reilly, as well as the smooth, granite coolness of a Paul Mach. From management to support staff to riders, Bissell is going to be showing fans around the country what it means to be professional in cycling.
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Tour of New Zealand – USA #1
Shelley Evans sprinted to victory in stage one of this prestigious UCI event, nabbing the leader’s jersey and asserting the US National team as ready to defend to the end. The ace in the whole for the squad is, of course, world champion Amber Neben. Neben is a rider with a palmares longer than a Kentucky derby studfarm and will be key to backing up Shelley’s bid for a first GC international win.
Key to supporting Neben will be TIBCO’s Alison Starnes … already a rider proving that she loves to paint herself purple with pain on the front-end of a race for a teammate. Janel Holcomb is also a rider with a strong history of being in the wind for a team, and I see her as being integral to keeping Shelley positioned well while Neben directs the team on the road.
Should be a great Tour.
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