Hamilton RR & Memorial Crit – exaggerations and errors
I don’t have anywhere near enough time to paint pictures to describe, with anything approaching justice, the pure-adrenaline’d awesomeness that was the SJBC’s big weekend of mayhem – the Mt. Hamilton Road Race and the Memorial Day Criterium.
SJBC has been around since the Abraham, and they pulled out all the stops for this weekend’s ridiculousness. To race Mt. Hamilton is like going to bed with a porcupine … you know it’s going to hurt, leave marks, and end up smelling like roadkill … but it’s just too interesting a proposition to miss out on.
First … Folsom Crits
Anyway, the weekend (for me) started with Saturday’s Folsom Criteriums. The Folsom folks really know how to put on a good time. The venue is excellent – with perfect pavement and umbrellas full of shade pleasantly cascading across rolling green corporate watered grass patches that just beg to be sat upon and spectated from. AND – there’s food and drink within walking distance if you need to refuel yourself or the family during the day. It’s just a downhome good time.
I didn’t get a chance to watch much of the racing – but, it was a clear sprint win by Pacific Crush’s Sofi Marin in the women’s p1/2/3. The Steven’s p/b Pactimo team was super aggressive and warming up the engines for Mt Hamilton – with Heather Lipana opening up the sprint early out of the final turn, after a massive leadout from her teammates. I think Marley Smith started the Folsom leadout about 2 weeks ago, and just finished off the final couple laps last Saturday … super impressive.
The Pacific Crush team had a very good weekend – with Marin winning at Folsom, then taking 2nd in the Memorial Crit cat 3 race behind TIBCO II’s Shannon “Pooja” Bhatia. They also put Dani Spires in second at Memorial behind TIBCO II’s Vanessa Cairns in the women’s 4 category race.
But back to Folsom –
I strapped on a number for both the 35s and p1/2 races at Folsom … and all I can say is – I need bigger gears. I’ve got a borrowed CX bike I’m riding right now, and it’s pretty damn sweet … but, I’ve only got a 50×13 top-gear, and them bruisers out at Folsom were making me feel like the guy always picking up the soap – sore and behind.
I spun out as best I could to be a part of the action, but the p1/2 race was just way, way too fast in those final few laps – and I just plain BLEW our team’s leadout in the geezer’s race. It wasn’t my best day.
The Folsom P1/2 race was a battle between hammerhead break-out artists throwing themselves on their swords in doomed attack after attack, and the wheelsucking, roulette-spinning, field sprinters who would gamble everything on a group gallop, and ignore the racing like a dissatisfied teenager until the final 2 laps, saving every ounce of bitter energy for their one, big-gamble shot at the finish line.
It was pretty rad.
I took a later flyer to try and get a little taste of the glory … but, it was too far out and I was unlucky enough to have Rand “I don’t know what to do with myself if I’m not covered in sweatsalt” Miller in the group. He would shoot out with Peter Knudsen of Clover (and husband of superpro Emily KA-chOre-k), and I believe Chuck Hutchinson of MarcProStava. There was another rider with them, but I was too bloodthirsty and only wanted more speed out of whoever was there. I had been out a couple laps, and when I saw the big train of Knudsen coming up, I knew I had to take a whiff of recovery and get ready for that locomotive to rumble past me. I would have hated to be dropped by this group with only a couple laps remaining – so, I let up, dug a bit, and grabbed Knudsen’s wheel as he led the group through.
If you haven’t been watching Knudsen race his bike these past weeks, you’ve been missing something special. There may not be a smarter, craftier, tougher guy out on the NorCal circuit right now than Pete Knudsen. He’s been around for years and has a racing resume that would drop half our p1/2 field … but he’s SUUUUPER chill and classy. I just love racing with him. But, it’s pretty un-nerving to hear him come up to you at 30mph, in the final moments of a crit that’s been averaging 45gazillion watts per pedalstroke, … and say,
… like a casual observer, a chesire cat, a f’ing paid assassin.
It was more than rad.
Knudsen swept through, and we pulled a bit for another lap, but Rand Miller was too pooped after being in 37 break attempts with that one-man army Chuck Hutcheson from MarcProStrava … so, we were caught soundly. The inevitable field sprint occurred, and I THINK Martin Acosta from McGuire won … but, I didn’t see it and didn’t stick around for the results – cuz I suck.
The GEEZERS race was won by Folsom – full stop. Our LangeTwins Winery p/b Great Basin Imaging team had been getting some good results lately and the Folsom boyz had taken a few lumps from us. But man, they really gave us and the rest of the old men in that crit some serious payback – as they gathered their big linebackers together and bull-rushed that final 800meters. Dan Bryant, Jason Snovel, Jason Boynton, Scott Pfeiffer put in a massive surge on the backside of the course and their sprinter/captain Judd Van Sickle finished it off with another superb field sprint. Great win by the Folsom Bikes guys.
– – – –
MT HAMILTON … why do you hate so much?
Of course I was late – and got about 4 minutes of warmup for the 100mile odyssey on Sunday. The p1/2 field left first, and I was pretty envious of what looked like a chill, somewhat sedate looking bunch of guys as they started out their romp over the mountain. The SJBC weekend was a NATURE VALLEY GRAND PRIX PRO-Ride selection race … with an omnium between Hamilton and the Memorial Crit that would decide who would receive a funded, fully supported ride on the NVGP amateur team. Of note, the top riders of the NVGP amateur team have a HUGE success rate at securing a professional contract after their stint at NVGP. Super, super cool.
It was all Mike’s Bikes and CalGiant out at Hamilton on Sunday. Of course Chuck Hutcheson was there for MarcPro Strava … because the man lives to hurt himself. The group was solid, but controlled up towards the KOM – but then it was afterburners on, and the racing began in earnest. I can only imagine the speeds and dare-devilry that took place on the backside slopes of the Hamilton descent … but, in the end it would be a small’ish group contesting the sprint for the Hamilton win.
CalGiant’s Chris STAZny looked to have the win, but a bike throw by the tenacious T – Tyler Brandt, would be the winning move and set up a massive battle for the NVGP PRO-Ride between Brandt, Staz, and Hutcheson.
CalGiant is the premier amateur team in the United States, and has been for about a decade. They have promoted some of the biggest names in men’s cycling to the professional ranks, and look to continue to do so for some time to come. They are a NorCal institution. But – the upstarts, the underdawgs, the badnewsbears that make up the MIKE’s Bikes Team have put on a stellar, stellar performance on the NorCal circuit this year. With Brandt taking a classic win at Hamilton, the team is absolutely making a case for themselves to be one of the best regional squads to develop in years. Mike’s Bikes is a true youth movement, even though they have veteran Steve Pelaez giving a guiding hand.
Speaking of old men …
I hate Chris Phipps so much that it has morphed into some sort of dark, twisted man-crush that could be incorporated into an R-rated version of Twilight.
Since I had no warmup for Hamilton, I tried to jump start my legs by following the CHP moto as they pulled us out of the residential streets and on to the Hamilton course. Unfortunately, the CHP went about 60mph … so, that wasn’t too successful. As soon as we turned right onto Hamilton, I faded back in the group and hoped like hell that we’d be sedate and sane for the 20’F’ing MILE CLIMB we had to get over.
No … Phipps was racing Strava. Not Hutcheson’s Marc Pro Stava team … I’m talking about that stupid Strava interweb program-thing where people “win” KOMs and trophy GIFs and such bullshittery. So Phipps went ape-shit on the climb, staring at his bike computer like a borg-implant … and I was dropped in the first mile. Gawdamnshithellfuck.
As I was zooming straight through the geezers field, all I could hear was Dan Bryant’s voice, “Mike … I don’t remember it being this hard.”
Word, Dan. word.
So, Dan Martin from Safeway took the win for the 35s, and I’m pretty stoked to see him back racing his butt off. He’s such a cool guy. I don’t really know, or care, who else was on the podium for the 35s – because I had to ride that 100miles back to the car without any of them … so screw em all. BUT – super huge shoutout to the cat3 funguys I rode with a bit, and the very, very hip Santa Cruz Mtn cat named Josh (3rd Pillar) who I rode the 40miles back to the cars. That guys was just amazing to enjoy a perfect day of weather and scenery with. Bike riding can be glorious … even when you get dropped.
SCREW YOU PHIPPS!
Hamilton for the Women … Oregon delivers
The NVGP PRO-Ride was up for grabs for the women, and it was an Oregonian hardass who took the prize with two stellar efforts on the weekend. Steven’s rider, Amy Thornquist, took off at mile 0 in the Hamilton race, and wouldn’t be seen again until 3 miles from the finish. No,– really – she rode that thing solo for 60miles. Whoa. I feel shrinkage all of a sudden.
There is an insider’s report on the day to be found by our super correspondent “Wheels Out” – check it out at: http://norcalcyclingnews.com/2012/05/28/mt-hamilton-womens-p123-report
Oregon’s Brianne Walle would take the win, and the lead on the NVGP PRO-Ride … which would finish out the weekend on Monday with the classic Memorial Day Criterium.
I was announcing most of the day in Morgan Hill and it was a fantastic time with sublime temperatures and hot, fast racing in all the categories. The SJBC always put on great junior category events – and Monday was no exception. Tobin Ortenblad won the 17-18 race, in a long break 2-up with Reece Levine of Tieni Duro. These two guys were absolute motors against the wind and the pack of raging hormones behind … it was a good display for the crowds and they appreciated it.
The women’s p1/2 criterium was won in epic fashion by Vanderkitten’s Maura Kinsella. Kinsella would take a big flyer late, bridging across to Oregon’s Anna Christensen, and the two would slay themselves for 5 laps to stick out the move. Stevens would put in a huge rush of speed in the final laps to close down the gap, actually overtaking Christensen in the final 50meters, but they would come up short of catching Kinsella.
Vanderkitten had been riding agro for the entire criterium, with Vanessa Drigo, Courntey Dimple, and Starla Teddergreen attacking like they were gonna be sent to prison if they weren’t off the front every other lap. Steven’s and the two Oregonians were fighting it out for the NVGP ride, so it did make for some tactical decisions needing to be made on the fly out there. Brianne Walle would profit from the Steven’s leadout, as she would take the field sprint in front of Mary Ellen Ash. BTW, MEA is coming into form like she always does for summer … look for some serious criterium domination coming from the Steven’s team in the next months.
With the win, Kinsella continues what is a great season with the VanderKats. Her teammate Ruth Winder took a huge win at the Tour of Sommerville this weekend, and the squad will be chasing dollars and headlines at the big money criteriums around the country in June. There will be a lot of VK national press coming up, for sure.
The Men’s Criterium … There’s a New Sheriff in Town
The Mike’s Bikes team had a big contingent at the Memorial Criterium … but with 100+ riders in the field – size doesn’t matter all that much. And speaking of size – how in the world can a kid who looks like he weighs about 12 pounds (wet) sprint faster than all the burly-bruisers of NorCal combined?
James Laberge won the Memorial Criterium after a superb leadout by Steve Pelaez and Hamilton winner, Tyler Brandt. With 1 lap to go, it was all CalGiant at the front, led by Rand Miller and BigBennySwedburg. If Chris Stazny could finish ahead of Brandt in the field sprint, he’d take the NVGP PRO-Ride. But, it was all Mike’s Bikes on the backside of the Memorial Day Crit course, as they would put in a sweetly-timed surge led by Pelaez towards the final corner. Brandt would finish off the leadout for Laberge by rocketing through the finishing turn like an F-16. Laberge would swing around Brandt and take the win in absolute style.
What a talent – what a future. These are all big names for the future – Brandt, Laberge, Stazny … and more.
NorCal talent is developing … huge.
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