Intense Heat and Steep Grades: Hotter’n Hell Hill Climb, By Brian McCulloch

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Photo Credit: Danny Munson

A lot of information can be gleaned from a properly crafted event name. So there was not much left to the imagination when I decided to sign up for the Hotter’n Hell Hill Climb up to the ski lifts at Mt. Baldy this last weekend. Having done this event two years ago, I already had an idea of the madness I was getting into and believe it or not, I was actually looking forward to it.

The weatherman did not disappoint those that decided to name the event as the forecast called for intense heat on the exposed steeps of Mt. Baldy Road. With a start time after 9:00am the temperature was already getting toasty when I rolled off the line with at my appropriate 30 second interval. After a proper warm-up I was off to hit the climb as hard as I could. I was joined by over 50 other riders that probably had as little or less regard for their tan-lines as me.

It did not take long for the climb to rear its ugly head as it was only about a five minute rolling start to the base of the hill and it was straight up from there! For those who don’t know, the climb to Mt. Baldy was included in recent additions of the Amgen Tour of California not for its picturesque views or stellar spectator accommodations. It was chosen because it is a brute of climb, with minimal traces of shade, steep pitches, a number of infamous switch backs and a precarious dirt/gravel road finish that made the last 600m of racing treacherous.

There is always a trade off on hill climb TT’s. You need fluid to stay hydrated, but every ounce you can get off your body or your equipment is less that you have to haul up the hill. By the top of the climb I was hoping I would have had two bottles, but given the 1:04:08 effort, ounces added up to valuable time, therefore I opted for one bottle. Oh how I wish that bottle was a Slurpee! Maybe that would not have gone down so well, but it sounds good from the comfort of my office chair today…

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Photo Credit: Danny Munson

I am not usually known for my time-trial prowess, which is precisely why I was signed up to race. Train your weaknesses and race your strengths, right? Surprisingly though, I was riding well and was able to make my way past a number of riders that had started in front of me which was encouraging. At this time I should interject that the road was open to traffic as well as other cyclists that were out to brutalize themselves in their own daily training regimen that included some climbing masochism. These folks turned out to be a nice surprise as I seemed to be passing them when I was suffering the most and each of them offered an encouraging word…”good job, you are going to win!”

As much as I appreciated the gesture, I was suffering and I knew I was not going to win. But I did not have the time or the ability to reason at that moment. With my heart rate well above threshold and my legs screaming for some relief, the best I could muster was a thumbs up to acknowledge their kind words of encouragement.

In the end I finished strong with one rider that I caught pushing me all the way to the line just to keep me honest. I came to the line with a time of 1:04:08 on the day, enough for fifth place and more than a two minute improvement on my time two years ago. Now that makes for a successful day of racing!

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Photo Credit: Danny Munson

An extra bonus was having teammate Sergio Escutia racing the event as well and we were lucky enough to have Oren Mitz at the race to help us get our bikes ready and make sure we were good to go. Sergio is a stud not only because he chose to do this event on his own accord, but he had never been to this road! He did the race “blind” not know what lurked around each switchback which actually could have been to his advantage. Ignorance is bliss, right?! Sergio finished a solid 6th just seconds behind me.

At the conclusion of my Mt. Baldy TT I did some ‘extra credit’ climbing as training for the upcoming climbing races I will be attending and attempted to get rehydrated and prepared for the final Ontario Criterium on Sunday.

The post Intense Heat and Steep Grades: Hotter’n Hell Hill Climb, By Brian McCulloch appeared first on KHS MAXXIS JAKROO Cycling Race Team 2014.

A Blustery Criterium: Ontario Summer’s End Grand Prix, By Brian McCulloch

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Photo Credit: Danny Munson

Upon arriving to the Ontario Criterium on Sunday, I was greeted by the same intense heat of Saturday’s hill climb and a properly stiff breeze. It almost made me think I had stepped into a convection oven instead of our industrial park criterium playground.

There is no secret that I love racing my bike. As much as I did enjoy the TT on Saturday, it was the highlight of my day to see my teammates and trade jokes before we suited up for the days racing event. The plan for the day was simple – race smart. However, that is not nearly as easy as it sounds especially for me. I tend to ride hard for the simple enjoyment of smashing it.

With an appropriate pep-talk from Paul and then some written notes for reinforcement, I was ready to race patiently and look for opportunities to use our tactics to force the race to be hard. The words of wisdom from Paul made a significant difference. My teammates and I were immediately on the ‘front foot’ throughout the race which meant we were able to use each other to set up tactical advantages. We repeatedly had at least one and sometimes three riders in any sizable move that went away.

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Photo Credit: Danny Munson

It was clear that the strong riders in the race came prepared to race hard and this was no cake walk. At differing times in the race each of my teammates were on the limit, myself included, maybe more than I would like to admit. After all of the attacking and counter attacking, always with a KHS-Maxxis-JAKROO rider making the move, the peloton started to soften and the gaps started to become harder to claw back. It was at this time that I saw an opportunity to attack. My teammate Steven Davis had just been on the attack with Shan D’Aurellio and as their move was absorbed by the peloton, I kicked hard to go off the front. Luckily, Corey Greenberg did so at the same time with his attack caming from the opposite side of the peloton and we met off the front and proceeded to go about the business of establishing a solid gap.

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Photo Credit: Danny Munson

Corey was quite strong in the breakaway and took hard pulls while we established the move and solidified our gap. There was still over thirty minutes of racing remaining in the event as he an I attacked. If this were to be the move, we would have to earn it as the field was not going to give up to a two-man breakaway. As the riders in the peloton attacked and counter attacked to form a chase group that would most certainly bridge the gap to Corey and I, we were pulling as hard as we could to put as much time as possible between us and the chasing field. Eventually a chase group was formed and, as you would expect, I had a teammate in the move. David Santos had been attentive enough to catch a free ride into the chase group and was able to capitalize on the other riders work to get away from the rest of the field. This did not allow me to ease off the my responsibilities in the front of the race, there was still a lot of work to be done!

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Photo Credit: Danny Munson

After we had been out in front of the field for thirty minutes Corey and I still had a solid gap on the field, but both of us were running out of steam. The heat, intensity, and wind were all starting to take its toll on us. Luckily one lap later we saw the lap cards come out at the start/finish line and we got a much needed jolt of enthusiasm. Corey and I continued to work together until two laps to go when he tried to attack me and head to the finish solo. I could not let that happen, however strong the attack was I had to catch on. I had to fight back and get to the wheel and it didn’t matter how much I hurt or how much I was suffering, I had to do it. I had to do it for Paul, for the guys, for our sponsors, and for myself.

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Photo Credit: Danny Munson

I fought back on and Corey tried again…this attack was done in a tailwind which leaves the tactical advantage to the attacker. I clawed my way back just in time to be ready for the headwind section when I was to see Paul going wild and telling me that Santos was coming across to me solo. This meant that the burden was on Corey and now I had a free ride for the rest of the race. The result was in Corey’s hands, he could risk losing to me in the sprint or play cat and mouse in hopes that Santos did not catch us, which would almost certainly mean that Santos and I would go 1-2 on the day.

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Photo Credit: Danny Munson

In the end, Corey and I stayed away to the line and jumped with everything I had for a final sprint that may have even impressed my teammate and sprinter extraordinaire, Fabrizio Von Nacher. if not with speed and form, but definitely with determination. I came around Corey and pushed all the way through the line, risking nothing to make sure I did not get passed in the final meters of the race.

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Photo Credit: Danny Munson

With excitement, I turned to see Santos smashing across the line for 3rd with an impressive turn of speed. In the end our KHS-Maxxis-JAKROO team went 1st and 3rd on the day and also had Steven Davis in the money so it was a good day all around.

Although every win is special, this victory was very special for the way in which we, as a team, executed our strategy, with everyone playing a critical role. Sergio, D’Aurellio, Steven, Santos, and I all raced smart and hard. As I said earlier, I love racing bikes, but the component I love most is executing a strategy with precision. When each rider plays their part beyond their capacities the result is always memorable.

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Photo Credit: Danny Munson

I could not have achieved this result without the support, guidance, patience, and encouragement of many people. With that said I would like to thank each of our generous sponsors, without you the KHS-Maxxis-JAKROO team would not be possible. I would also like to thank Oren Mitz, Gary Rennie, Danny Munson, Paul Abrahams, my lovely wife JoyJoy, and my coach Mr. Shirley. I am encouraged and inspired by each of you, thank you for always believing in me!

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Photo Credit: Danny Munson

Looking forward to the next race it is my hope that I can again be a part of a winning strategy, no matter what result that leaves me with, if we as a team execute to perfection I am confident that the result will be worth while.

Until next time, be safe, ride hard, and have fun,

BMc

The post A Blustery Criterium: Ontario Summer’s End Grand Prix, By Brian McCulloch appeared first on KHS MAXXIS JAKROO Cycling Race Team 2014.

Death Valley Omnium: Changing Gears – Joy McCulloch

Blvd original 1 1024x682 Death Valley Omnium: Changing Gears – Joy McCullochPhoto Credit: Danny Munson

I have lived in Southern California for over 10 years now, and I have never wanted to go the hottest and lowest place on earth – the fabled Death Valley. I have driven past it on the 395 numerous times and I have never given it more than a thought and a shudder, thinking of what just might lay at the bottom of the sand. But racing calls, and I am not one to turn down a day to pin another number on and test myself again the clock, terrain and my inner demons and angles. It was time to head to the desert. Read more

Brentwood Grand Prix: By Steven Davis

Brentwood 6 original 1024x682 Brentwood Grand Prix: By Steven DavisPhoto Credit: Danny Munson

This past Sunday we raced the Brentwood Grand Prix. This is a 6-turn 1.7 mile criterium, very near to the city of Santa Monica. We had six guys representing KHS-Maxxis p/b JAKROO and were very excited for the opportunity to be really aggressive. With a six man squad, we could be on the offensive and hopefully dictate the tactics of the race.

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San Rafael Twilight Criterium: 2nd Place!

10562997 704444149610737 1494421763899346581 n San Rafael Twilight Criterium: 2nd Place!

The KHS-Maxxis pb JAKROO team headed to the Bay Area this past weekend to race the San Rafael Twilight Criterium. Our sponsor iRT Wheels was one of the main sponsors for the event and we wanted to capitalize on the chance to meet up with our sponsors from iRT and JAKROO Custom Clothing while also having the chance to compete in a great bike race. The trip north proved to be well worth the effort, both on and off the bike with Fabrizio Von Nacher finishing 2nd and teammate David Santos 5th in a race that the team did the lions share of animating from the gun. Read more

Boise Twilight Criterium

Manhattan Beach 3 original 1024x682 Boise Twilight CriteriumPhoto Credit: Danny Munson

For the 4th year in a row, we headed to Boise, ID to race the NCC Boise Twilight Criterium on our way to Cascade Cycling Classic. This is a great event with an exciting atmosphere where our team has had great success each time we have competed in it. Sprinter and our top finisher on the day, Fabrizio Von Nacher, recounts his experience in the race:

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