Roberge, Young, and Castillo Bolster Squad in 2019

Photo Credit: Danny Munson

Tustin, CA, December 28th-

The Elevate-KHS Pro Cycling Team completes it’s 2019 roster with the signings of four new riders. Americans Eric Young and Kyle Swanson, Canadian Adam Roberge, and Ulises Castillo from Mexico join the team.

Photo Credit: Rally Cycling

Two-time US PRO Criterium Champion Eric Young joins the team in 2019 coming from the Rally Cycling Team. Eric has proven himself to be one of the fastest sprinters in the US, winning stages at the Tour of Korea, GP Cycliste de Saguenay, Vuelta Mexico, Tour of Utah, and the Starsko Proljeće in Croatia. “Eric brings a high level of leadership and hunger to our program. He is really fired up to prove he is still the fastest sprinter in America, and his commitment on and off the bike is unparalleled. We could not have picked a better leader for our younger riders to emulate,” says Heath Blackgrove, Team Director.

“I am super excited for the opportunity to race with Elevate-KHS Pro Cycling team in 2019. It’s a group of young, humble, and hungry bike racers that have proven to have the most committed lead out train in the US. I’m hoping to add my strengths to the team, share what I’ve learned with the guys, and make a bunch of new memories by winning some big races. The collaboration between the USA National Team and the Elevate-KHS will allow me to maximize my opportunities to earn a spot on the Olympic team for 2020.”

Photo Credit: Rally Cycling

“We are already starting to gear up and support our athletes who are focusing on the 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo, Japan. Our program has developed a solid relationship with US National Team Track Endurance coach Clay Worthington, from USA Cycling, which insures a clear and well defined pathway to Tokyo for our endurance track athletes, Gavin Hoover and Eric Young,” states Paul Abrahams, team General Manager.

Photo Credit: Brian Hodes

Two time Canadian U23 Time Trial Champion Adam Roberge joins the team from the Silber Cycling Team. “I’m more than thrilled to be a part of Elevate-KHS for the upcoming year. I have already received a warm welcome from riders and staff and I’m super enthusiastic about improving my racing ability. I’m confident that the team support will allow me to reach my 2019 goals which include winning an UCI stage race and scoring a top 5 at TT worlds,” says Adam Roberge. Despite being only 21 years old, Roberge represented Canada this year in the World Championships in Innsbruck, Austria, and at both World Tour races in Quebec and Montreal. “We started having conversations with Adam in June and could not be more impressed with his commitment and desire to reach the top of level of the sport. He is without a doubt already one of the best time trialist in North America, while his positioning and racecraft in road races continues to improve. Adam is really going to thrive in our positive team environment which focuses on teaching, communication, teamwork, and commitment to the details,” states Abrahams.

Photo Credit: Brian Hodes

Sprinter Ulises Castillo returns to the team after two years with the Jelly Belly Pro Cycling team. Castillo had solid results in 2018 on the international scene by finishing 2nd overall in the Tour of Xingtai in China and wearing the KOM jersey at the Ras Tailteann in Ireland for four days. Tour of Utah was a highlight stateside, with three top ten finishes and a 2nd place finish on Stage 1 finishing in Cedar City. “Ulises brings such a positive vibe to the team, and he is such a versatile rider who excels in hard UCI road races and US criteriums, that we had to get him back. We expect Ulises to play a vital role winning races and being a leader on the road,” states team Co-Owner John McAllister. “I am really excited to be back with everyone at Elevate-KHS. For me, it is like returning home to family. I am working hard in this off season to get back to the top step of the podium and help out my teammates as much as possible,” says Castillo.

Photo Credit: Danny Munson

Neo-Pro Kyle Swanson joins the team from the Elbowz Racing team. The 21 year old Swanson had a breakout 2018 season, winning seven races, and he stood out as one of the top young talents coming out of Texas. “We are always looking to give young passionate athletes the opportunity to challenge themselves and become a part of our organization,” says McAllister.

The returning core riders to the team are Jordan Cheyne, Gavin Hoover, Brian McCulloch, and George Simpson. “These are truly the tough guys that do the dirty work which enables us to win races. The sprinters and climbers might receive the glory, but without our core group of strong guys chasing, pulling, leading out, getting bottles, and putting them into position, nothing happens. We are really excited about the roster we have created for the 2019 season and look forward to many victories this upcoming year,” states Abrahams.

2019 Elevate-KHS Pro Cycling Roster:

Sam Bassetti (USA)

Ulises Castillo (MEX)

Jordan Cheyne (CAN)

Gavin Hoover (USA)

Brian McCulloch (USA)

James Piccoli (CAN)

Adam Roberge (CAN)

Alfredo Rodriguez (MEX)

George Simpson (USA)

Kyle Swanson (USA)

Eric Young (USA)

Follow Elevate-KHS Pro Cycling On Our Social Media Outlets for the latest race day updates!

Web: www.elevate-khsprocycling.com

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Checking In with Sam Bassetti

Photo Credit: Ethan Glading Photography

You had an incredible 2018 season! At the beginning of the year, did you think it was possible to be so successful?

I always believed that I was ultimately capable of better results than what I had achieved in the past. But this year I would say that I surpassed my own expectations.

At the close of the season, you were ranked the number two rider in America. At any point in the season did you start looking at the ranking points?

I was really just focused on doing my best at each individual race. I was pleasantly surprised to end up so high in the PRT.

Photo Credit: Danny Munson Photography

You have been on Professional Teams before and went back down to the amateur level prior to joining Elevate-KHS Pro Cycling this season. What was the reason that you stuck it out and continue along this path?

I knew that I had not reached my ultimate potential. One of my main drivers to continue in this sport is that I have a deep desire to know how good I can really be. Despite continual setbacks over the years, I could still see progression and knew that I could be better. I was still in a place in my life that allowed me to continue riding, and I knew I would always regret it if I stopped early.  

This has been a challenging off-season for many professional cyclists has with teams folding and fewer opportunities. What advice would you give riders who find themselves without a “Pro” contract or team?

You can’t look down on any opportunities in front of you, and you have to put in everything you have no matter how big or small the race is.  The most important race is the next one on your calendar. You can’t dwell on where you were, and you have to focus on where you want to be.

Sprinter Jersey Winner, Joe Martin Stage Race

What are some of your big targets or goals for the upcoming 2019 season?

My goals won’t change a whole lot, although my expectations will.  My biggest goals will be Tour of Utah and USPRO.

Have you done anything special this off-season?

I made some small changes to my training, but I didn’t do anything crazy.  I planned out a sustainable, steady workload and I am currently executing on that plan.  

Follow Elevate-KHS Pro Cycling On Our Social Media Outlets for the latest race day updates!

Web: www.elevate-khsprocycling.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/elevatekhscycling/

Instagram: @elevatekhsprocycling

Thank you to our 2018 Partners: 

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Nationals | 2018-2019 CX # 8

I finished off the brisk weekend in Tulsa with an air of hopelessness, I’m usually pretty lackadaisical when it comes to the elevated importance of a one day stand-alone race such as nationals; if merely in the interest of non-conformity with the high levels of stress that everyone else is huffing around with.  I was however hoping to bring it for the masters event, the first I could participate in since I crossed the finish line with the top honors in Boulder. The following years featured a rule change that prohibited starting in both masters and elite events in the same season and I was left to choose between start lines, opting for the later. 

 

As it has been for the past few years for me, I arrived at the nationals venue early in the week. It’s pleasant to scope out the venue and gather familiarity with the nuances of the course before the large crowds ascend, but it’s also terrifying to share the course with riders who approach features with a much different rhythm.  I opted to catch a lap or two in between races but the course conditions were nearly guaranteed to vary considerably with thousands of tires, changing weather, and the progression of the week.  

Indeed the first few days featured a frost layer working its way out of the soil.  The top level was slick, worthy of a surprise wheel slip on regular intervals in the many otherwise subtle off-cambers the course was comprised of. After two days of such conditions the morning of my masters race dawned with inexplicably bone dry grass.  As the first race to start the day not even a drop of dew was present.  With just a few minutes of daylight present before the call to staging, I opted to skip out on one last preview lap.  

My start was flawless, I predicted I would get off the line well but not be the strongest and I was prepared to settle in behind whoever had the lead.  This played out as I had foreseen and I was happy to sit in until I could make a move.  The move came sooner than I had figured, my preferred line was not the one the lead racer took and I rode through clean while the alternative proved less so and a pileup ensued.  

 

The next obstacle was the sandpit which was a bit of a sore spot for me.  I imagine that there is some good in raking the sand each morning but in all fairness the only race that experiences the freshly fluffed and untracked stretch is that very first one.  If providing the race with a fresh sand pit is a priority it should happen before each start.  Regardless it was the same for all of us competing against each other and my largest problem in actuality was the few extra deep pedal strokes needed to clear through; exactly what my back prohibited.  

 

I fumbled but maintained my early lead and as we approached the stairs I could tell I wasn’t going to hang on to it.  I just couldn’t get my leg to swing smoothly over the bike on the dismount and lifting my legs to make the steps happen was a struggle.  I dragged the bike up the stairs tucked daftly under my armpit.  

 

 

I surrendered the lead shortly after, there just wasn’t any way.  I held on to a hope that the two lead girls would tire before I did but I wasn’t riding with any sort of strength, I was just surviving.  I finished third on the day with an air of dejection but it was important to look at it from the larger picture: if my worst day still landed me a spot on the podium I needed to appreciate what I was capable of rather than hyperfocus on my shortcomings. 

 

I hung around for the remainder of the day and awards later that evening.  With the podium presentation wrapping up I finally broke down and shed some tears as I concluded I was in a less than optional place and needed to come to terms with it.  I drove to the nearby VA emergency room at the recommendation of my home doctors to see what relief I could get.  It took a bit of explaining that I was only looking for the variety of pain relief that wouldn’t require a TUE and while I was still a few days from competing in the elite race I was more concerned with the longer term and my upcoming trip to Europe. 

 

I walked out of there with a more than a few prescriptions but not much hope. The rains began and the course conditions went from muddy to muddier.  Each race experienced deepening ruts and larger scale crashes.  By the final races on Saturday afternoon, just a few starts away from the elites, the course was a quagmire with some of the lap times nearing the twenty minute mark.  I was banking on a few course changes being made and indeed they dropped some of the tape lower on the hillsides to give us a fresh bite on the ground.  This plays out to not just be a blessing though, fresh grass gets ground off and stuck on the bike, meaning more surface to hold onto the mud and consequently even heavier bikes and more clogging in the drivetrain. 

 

We gathered at staging when the time arrived and it was one of those races you had to pick clean shoes or clean bike to even get to the start line.  I didn’t have much expectations, besides the obvious issues I was already facing, much of the course was running and the running involved pulling each foot out of the suction of the mud.  Rolling the bike while on foot wasn’t an option as slow (running paced) speeds in continuously drying and now very sticky mud was a recipe for adding on weight you at some point would be forced to hoist up.  

 

When the lines are constantly changing and difficult to dial there are a lot of unknowns that can take you in a direction you aren’t intending.  There is less overall control and more steering by looking in a direction to let your weight carry you along and much need to relax and let fly.  A lot of the micro adjustments for this type of riding are in the hips and that was where I wasn’t so flexible.   

 

 

The flat stretch off the start line was mostly ridable.  It was intimidating to be near the back of the pack, many of the starts had crashes as the riders transitioned from fast dry pavement to deep muck.  It was chaotic as we sprinted in, but less than I had expected. We transitioned to the grind through the first section and then as the curves and off cambers came on it was just a time trial of who was willing to send it on the two downhill sections and who was able to keep the run going for longer.  The running wasn’t about being out of breath, it also revolved around who’s shoes stayed on and who could ignore the cramping calf muscles for longer.   

 

After switching bikes each time I came to the pit and turning laps akin to 17 minutes, I made it two ridiculous times around the course before I was pulled.  It’s never fun to get pulled but it was damn cool to have front row seats watching Katie Compton secure her 15th national title.  With just 48 hours before I boarded a plane to the other side of the world with more equipment than any sane person should head to an airport with, it was time to put the week behind me and make things happen. Namely involving scrubbing and much soap and water.   

 

 

Dallas and Tulsa | 2018-2019 CX #7

 

I feel a sense of community with each location that I go but nowhere does it feel it quite like Texas. The local cycling folks from all disciplines come out of the woodwork to get involved in the course set up and marshaling, registration, and tear down.  People come straight off the course sometimes still in their kits from riding to help out. Kids run amok and many of the team tents are welcoming rather than exclusive hangouts for those wearing colors matching the canopy.  It’s a family environment that shows it’s pride of being part of the bigger picture of the national cyclocross series and excitement to bring the race bigger and better each year. 

 

I had a new host situated in a much friendlier location for escaping to ranch land from the endless sprawl of McMansions.  Texans love their space and it was a really pleasant transition to go from hiding in the van for over a week to having the room to sprawl out.  The family was kind enough to leave some leftover pie from their holiday gathering so my Turkey Day wasn’t a complete bust. I did spend a considerable amount of time each day playing evade the Roomba but it also made for a good schedule enforcer to time getting tasks accomplished each day.  

 

The weather stayed warm and the forecast had a strong probability of storms for the weekends lineup of races.  My hopes were high, much love goes into the production of the Resolution Cross course but the fun bits are of the outskirts or the course centered around a stark grassy field that despite being a means to get from one playful woody section to the other, still requires awful long stretches of straightforward watts.  Mud would make the boring grass a whole lot of fun while rendering the woods slick and challenging. 

 

 

A rare and pleasant addition to the lap this year was the “choose your own adventure” style of racing, where course spreads out to include whatever lies in it’s path rather than to narrow down and avoid obstacles at the course builders discretion.   I personally feel that this style allows for more interesting spectatorship as each person watching forms their own opinion of the best line and then gets to watch the fastest riders utilize their interpretation. Coupled with the heightened challenge of analyzing line choice during the preride, the increased need to session the section, and then the real time decision making while having more congestion during the race necessitates adds unlimited quality to a course.  Resolution featured much of this this year and it was defining characteristics to the feel of the weekend.  

 

While the promised weather front, lengthy downpours, and accompanying tornado warnings did make their way through the metro area that evening I was left as the lone occupant of the house sleepless and contemplating the likelihood that if there really was a tornado about to hit that surely the parents would come upstairs to wake up the kids and consequently alert me to the need to seek a more secure location. 

 

Fortunately the warnings and imagery on the radar materialize about a quarter mile east of us and continued east leaving us in the wake of the sirens. The skies opened for over an hour and I figured the amount of rain we received would be plenty to make the course conditions “favorable” for the following day. 

 

While the woods sections indeed became slick and greasy, the already high level of challenge in those sections didn’t change all that much.  The open areas absorbed all of the moisture and stayed bone dry with the grass progressively wearing off as the race day progressed to feature flat slick corners with high levels of slip out risk.  

Short sleeves were on order for the first day with the relative warmth feeling almost uncomfortably hot.  I never quite felt as though I found a groove or had my grip or lines dialed in the woods so raced to what felt like a lackluster effort on my part. But I was training through the week with the goals set on nats.  I felt like I was giving near 100%, just that my legs didn’t have any watts to give.  Cross is more than 100% though. To be competitive you have to be accelerating on every available inch of the course.  If you aren’t moving forward you are moving backwards and that mind set requires a lot of mental tenacity.  

 

Sunday was much of the same although the length of the woods was increased.  I felt good again, strong but just not fast.  I fell into a head to head battle with a few girls later in the race after managing to squeeze all the air out of both my tires somewhere on the course and swapping out bikes. It was nice to be along other riders fighting for a wheel and that made for a larger effort than just burning circles into the dry grass. 

 

I hung out a few days longer to continue to stalk out a photo of the zonkey that lived a block away from my hosts and to join the Wednesday night “creek cross” race that is held at our same race venue in Garland. The race is shorter but so was the course, thirty minutes on a 2 minutes lap had me asking after a few laps in how many laps we had remaining and the reply was 14. Ha.  More time to session the woods from the weekends race I guess! It was fun riding with the juniors in the super short lap because there was lots of opportunity to encourage them along but I definitely took home the first place prize of a few armfuls of poison ivy.  

 

 

I delayed heading to Tulsa purely because of the temperatures. I love my Tulsa family just as much as Texas but it was forecasted to be 10-30 degrees colder and I wasn’t too excited about anything in the general direction of north.  There definitely comes a time when sucking it up and embracing winter is on the top of the agenda and while I can make that happen with the best of them, after a few minutes I’m full on ready to head back to tank top weather.  

A winter storm was in the forecast with ice and snow predicted for late in the week until the weekend.  Ruts N’ Guts was the last scheduled weekend of UCI racing before nationals and this year the C1 status grew the field a bit. The course featured a few changes as the adjacent lake had filled in some of the previous years features but the designers threw in a few additions to spice up the remaining sections. 

The race weekend was a cold one although the promised weather did it’s best effort to bypass the Sooner state and visit our cohorts in North Carolina where the other UCI race of the weekend was taking place. They experienced heavy wet snow during the race on Saturday and enough feet on Sunday to shut down the course… as well as the entire town. We on the other hand had not one drop of precipitation but the cold was bone chilling. 

 

Some combination of activities seemed to have come together to produce the perfect storm of severe back pain for this week and after Tuesday I could barely walk around much less sit or race well.  Ever the optimist I loaded up on some vitamin I and hoped for the best. Fridays pre ride earned me a few comments on not looking very enthusiastic about being on the course but not many people knew I wasn’t able to actually lift the bike once I was off it.  Momentum could keep the bike with me over some faster moving dismounts such as the stairs but otherwise I was only able to drag the bike over the barriers or compress the front wheel on the ground to bounce it up to the top of the planks.  

 

Often while competing the adrenalin and endorphins make it so that anything that hurts is long forgotten about in the heat of the race but not this time.   The pain manifested from my lower back and locked up muscles into my quads which burned in a way that made me think I had done more than just 30 seconds of a start sprint.  I was going nowhere fast which was mentally debilitating but quitting is always more so after the fact.  The least you can do is put forth whatever effort that you can and walk away with the satisfaction that even though it wasn’t pretty you didn’t back down.   

 

 

Race effort aside the course was fun.  I opted to sit out on Sunday as I was planning to race a few days later in Louisville for the masters nationals and for once I was not sad to miss out on the seconds day action.  It was worthwhile to observe my own field racing, something I don’t get many opportunities at.  With nationals on the immediate horizon, if there was a bad time for my back to have seized up I’d pretty much nailed it.  

I’d had a few opportunities in the past to thoroughly ponder the popular job interview question of “what is your biggest fear?” and concluded that my most honest answer was “mediocrity.” It seems as though I’d been bringing a larger amount than my fair share this year but you have to take the good with the bad.  With the overwhelming sense of impossibility that comes from being faced with not just daily training but basic tasks such as bending over, getting out of bed, or putting your socks on, seeing the light at the end of the tunnel can be just as challenging as admitting that you are hurt.