by Ken Huizenga
My form was not what I had hoped after fighting a bug the end of December. Although I could find a million excuses to not ride, the need to compete was my driving factor in me opting to participate. I was pretty sure after studying the data from this Crit last year that I was in over my head. I remained optimistic and gave it my best.
Needing to maintain 24 mph average seemed impossible and on this day it was for me. This course was super fast and had tons of room in all the corners. I held on to the main pack for about 15 minutes but ran out of lung to keep the legs moving at this pace. I did have a group with me of about 5 riders and a few of us took turns pulling but after about three rotations I must have dropped them…ugh! With no one to hide behind all I could do was grind the last 10 minutes out alone, which I did. I was lapped and gassed but those of you that know me know I don’t quit. I heard Coach Buzz encouraging me every lap and it was a big part of keeping me going. Every lap I heard “keep pushing” or “great job Ken, keep it up” What an awesome experience it is to have teammates that support you. I finished in 29th which does not sound great but I had two riders that finished behind me and 20 riders that gave up with DNF’s. Thanks to my team for the encouragement and Gary for making us a great home base for the day.
Ken working hard during the 4/5's
I was done early and was wheel support for Buzz and Michael during the afternoon. I hung out to watch Evan get a third place in a race and Buzz finish fifth in the last race of the day. They rode their legs off, it was awesome. I have to include the story about Ryan Robold coming by with a flat. I asked him if he needed a new wheel. He said “I don't have one in the pit”. I waved him over, he cranked his quick release, I threw a new one on, closed his brakes, gave him a push and he perfectly blended in without losing a lap. As we all know this situation can make even the best of us look like bumbling fools. On this day we nailed it and he finished with the lead group in 16th. Super cool.
Thanks again to my teammates, you’re the best!
by Michael Hast
I raced in 3 crits, Masters 40+ Cat 4/5, Cat 4 and Cat 3/4. Together with Gary, Ken and Greg, I raced in the Masters 40+ Cat 4/5 crit. It was the most comfortable of the crits for me because the speed was lower and the field was not as aggressive. My goals were to lead Greg out for a prime and to lead Gary out for the final sprint. There were 3 primes during the 30 min race and the first 2 primes were won by riders who separated themselves from the pack laps before the prime was announced and won. Nobody wanted to chase them down at that time. However when the last prime was announced I happened to be at the front of the pack, praying that Greg would be within the top 10 to be able to make is way up to the front to participate in the prime sprint. I led the pack for 1/2 a lap and then let off the pace for most of them to pass me, thinking that Greg would be with them. That worked out great. Fast forwarding to the last laps, I again was in a good position and moved towards the front to be in control of the lead out. Unknown to me Gary was to the right of me when the last lap was announced before the turn into the final lap. So I wasn't sure who I am leading out, but took the lead position and gave it all I got. I was again passed before the finish line, my work was done :-)
Michael pulling at the front of the pack during the 4/5's
Then came the Cat 4 and Cat 3/4 races and the speed and intensity increased. In both races it took me a while, almost half of the race time to get comfortable. The plan for the Cat 4 races was for Buzz to attack a couple of times and win a prime, and for Buzz to lead me out with 1 1/2 laps to go. The plan for the Cat 3/4 race was to hang on ;-). During the Cat 4 race I discovered that riders would leave the inside of the long right curve open for riders to pass. I used it a couple of times to move up in the pack shielded by other riders. The first couple of primes were won by individuals who again attacked the pack long before the primes were announced. Way to go Buzz! So the pack didn't really chase down those riders. When Buzz attacked and won his prime, all I was thinking, I got to move up front to block. How can I block?!? But Buzz's attack gave me the chance to move up to the front. Towards the end of the Cat 4 race, I moved up to the front, trying to chase down Kyle and another rider and maybe stay away with them. But Kyle and the other rider stayed away too long and didn't want to work at that time. When the last 5 laps were announced, I was up front, and all I could think of, where is Buzz, he was supposed to lead me out :-) But Buzz was way ahead of me and moved quickly to the front. Buzz put down an enormous amount of power leading me for about 2 laps, and turned it over to me with 2 laps to go. Well, I was able to lead for one of those laps, but didn't have enough power to finish the last lap in the lead. All in all, it was a very successful race. The Cat 3/4 race got very intense and aggressive towards the last couple of laps which resulted in a crash in the last lap. I was once forced off the road into the dirt. Praise God, I stayed up and was able to get back on the road. After that I really had no will to sprint with these intense riders.
Michael gaining confidence during the 5's
by Buzz Wright
I raced in both the 4's and in the 3/4's. These were my first races as a Cat 4 so I was a little unsure as to how I would do (especially with the 3/4's). The weather was absolutely perfect and the course was awesome. No wind, good pavement, nice and fast!
The plan for the 4's race was to do an attack and see what happened, go for a prime, and then position myself to put in a good pull for Michael with a couple laps to go, hopefully setting him up for an attack 1-2 laps from the finish. When the opportunity came I decided to attack right at the end of the long sweeping turn heading towards the start/finish. As I crossed the start/finish I heard them announce that it was a prime lap so I figured I could take down two birds here (attack, get a prime, then see what happened).
Buzz attacking during the Cat 4 race
I was able to sang the prime and continued pushing hard for a bit. I took a quick self-assessment to decide whether to continue the breakaway or slow up to re-join the group. I decided that since I was solo and still wanted to work for Michael later in the race that I shouldn't put too much effort into the break. I sat up and waited for the group.
Once back in the group I didn't do much till the call for 5 laps to go. Michael was near the front so I went up to join him and get ready to launch his attack. Kyle with TriSports went out solo and had a little gap so as I was heading by Michael I yelled for him to jump on my wheel and we would try to break away with Kyle. Things didn't quite work out as I had hoped and after pulling at max effort for two laps I was hurting pretty bad and had to peel off. Michael still had 2 laps to go and with the group on him had no chance of getting free. I should have let Kyle stay solo and had Michael get behind me for a leadout attack as we had originally planned. Next time.
Buzz leading out Michael with 3 laps to go
My good friend Evan threw down a fantastic sprint at the finish, grabbing a podium spot. Congrats Evan!
The plan for the 3/4's was to not get dropped. I'm very happy to report that I was able to hang on all the way to the finish, with just enough left in the legs to get 5th. A great day of racing for IC3! A guy went down during the last lap of the race and it sounded pretty gnarly. I hope to see him back racing very soon.
by Gary Schobel
We had a great time this year at the Avondale crit. Christina and I went up a day ahead of the team to scout out the course and the place to set up our IC3 team tents. Just getting there driving around the course started to build the excitement for me. I couldn't wait to chat it up with the rest of my teammates and how everything look like up there. My wife and I had grabbed a hotel close by making it quick and easy for us to start the setup Sunday morning.
Gary leading the way in the 4/5's
As the team began to show up and setup was completed the team began to warm up. I found myself taking a minute to step back and just soak it in. IC3 was a real team, a race team! As Buzz laid out the plans for each racer, I found myself feeling so blessed to be there and to be a part of this team. The encouragement and camaraderie was awesome. I had only raced in one other crit race and it was just about a year ago. So I was still a little nervous about the closeness and speed that we would be racing at. During the first race I bumped tires with one of the other racers but managed to stay up. As if I wasn't nervous already, at that time the nervousness almost became a reality. The plans that Buzz laid out during the warm up was for me too execute two attacks and for Michael to lead me out of the win. I've got a lot to work on, because when they blew that whistle to start I forgot everything. It was just go go go! I did get the opportunity to lead a couple of times. That felt great!
Gary putting in some work at the front
I need to work with my teammates more and I'm sure the results could have even been better. In the second race there were 3 crashes. I barely skated by the second crash, skidding around the bikes and bumping into another racer. But once again I felt the hand of the Lord's protection around me. Another highlight for me was being able to invite Kyle, Evan, and Ryan as well as their families over to our tents to hang out with us. IC3 may not have made it to the podium but it sure did feel like a winning day to me. I'm thankful for the great weather, the safety for all my teammates and friends, and so grateful to be part of IC3.
by Greg Chmelik
This was my second-ever criterium event. I entered two races. I am still on the learning curve of cornering while surrounded by other racers jostling for position. I gave up a lot of positions through the corners every lap of the first race but was able to cover a strong attack that came blasting out of mid-pack. That was one of my jobs from Coach Buzz for that race so it felt great to get it done. In the second race, I did better with the cornering and felt better at the end. On the final lap I got caught behind a split on the back stretch but beat all of the second group. This landed me in 8th overall for that race. Definitely making forward progress.
Greg working on cornering during the 4/5's
I was so happy to have my family and teammates there for the event. It felt great to have some fellowship and celebrate our experience as a group. At the end of the day, Gary and I were able to assist the event's medical personnel in the care of a rider who had fallen in the final race. His external injuries were bad but not life-threatening. However, you never know what is going on internally until the patient gets to the hospital for scans. Internal injuries can cause a fast deterioration so it was good to have many skilled hands at the ready. It was great that IC3 was able to be there for that rider. Prayers for a speedy recovery.
The IC3 Tucson race team is very excited to have been given the opportunity to organize some local crit training races! Our first set (of hopefully many) has been permitted and we look forward to having some fun with other local racers and non-racers interested in seeing what crits are all about. The crits will occur every Wednesday night from February 4, 2015 to April 8, 2015. If there is enough interest the series will be extended into May (to be determined). The cost to participate will be $5 per day for USAC licensed riders and $15 per day for non-licensed riders.
If you are a non-racer looking to get into the race scene, or a new racer that doesn't feel comfortable racing in criteriums, the "beginner" level is for you! If you're a more experienced racer interested in working on your skills and tactics, we will also have "intermediate" and "advanced" levels.
For more information click here: Crit Training Series
by Tony Russo
I rode the 104 mile event. Greg and I were starting at the front of gold and we had two teammates Gary and Jimmy starting at the front in platinum. It has been my goal since I started riding in 2009 to make platinum at this event. In 2012 I crashed hard and was unable to finish and in 2013 I missed it by just 98 seconds. The weather was perfect so I decided to go as hard as I could from the start and see if I could get on Jimmy or Gary’s wheel. It took about 7 minutes but I was able to make it on to Jimmy’s wheel and the ride was uneventful going into the wash. I dismounted and ran as best I could across the wash but my heart rate was approaching 190 bpm by the time I remounted. I settled into a group about 100 yards back from the lead group and we held that gap most of the way till we got to Kolb (about 23 miles in). By this time we had lost a bit more time on the lead group and our group was down to about 12. We kept a good paceline going all the way to Old Spanish Trail 34 miles in. A larger group caught us and we all merged together for the descent down Freeman Rd. As we got closer to the second wash crossing we still had a large group and I worked my way up front as best I could as I knew I would lose a bit on the steep climb on Snyder Rd. The second wash was in perfect condition and I was able to ride all the way through. My teammate Margo was on the other side with a fresh bottle which I grabbed and then kept going.
Once I got on Sunrise about 50 miles in I started cramping in both my legs. I knew I had probably not taken in enough fluids and electrolytes. I sat in as much as I could and drank a bottle over the next 15 minutes. The cramps continued for the next 15 to 20 miles but started feeling better the closer I got to home.
Our small group of 7 made the turn onto the frontage road but we were all tired and it was hard to hold 18 mph in the headwind. I started doing the math in my head and knew it would be close at this pace. I thought to myself, "not again." I took as long of a pull as I could when it was my turn to try to make up as much time as I could. After a few miles a larger group caught up with us and I quickly jumped in. We were back up to 20+ mph and I knew I was gonna do it. About 8 miles to go I saw my wife, step daughter and newborn son on the side of the road cheering me on. I was feeling much better and made a good push all the way to the finish. My official time was 4:41:58. I cant wait to ride again with my new IC3 teammates!
by Michael Hast
I rode the 55 mile event. It was good to see our recreational riders and pray with them before the start. I lined up with friends from the Shootout ride; Big Mike, Lorenzo, Richard, Chris, Conor and Bill. Before the gun went off, I was also able to pray with Conor and Bill, who are not IC3 members, but strong Christian brothers. We decided to put the hammer down up Swan Rd. and up La Canada in order to dwindle down the group to about 15 riders before we got on the Frontage road. That was a success and after Big Mike's unfortunate flat tire we had a group of 13 who were contending for the win. Going down the Frontage road, the participation in the pace line was spotty, as riders tried to save power for the final couple of miles. I attempted a breakaway at the corner of Congress. I was caught by the group just before turning on Grande. I could feel at that time that my leg strength was not the same as when I broke away at the CCCC. Nevertheless, Richard, Lorenzo and I attempted another breakaway on 22nd, just before 6th Ave. On 6th Ave. we were caught by the group and then everyone tried to line up for the final sprint. At that time we encountered a couple of riders from the 104- and 75-mile distance, which interfered with the sprint. I played it safe and didn't go all-out, finishing 7th. I had a safe and blessed ride, all praise be to our Heavenly Father!
by Greg Chmelik
Last year was my first time riding in El Tour de Tucson. I had crashed turning onto Hughes Access so this year I was pretty nervous until I made that corner. I kept a good amount of space around me until I got past that turn. After that I was able to mentally settle in and be comfortable getting close enough to draft off other riders.
Last year we did not do the first wash crossing so that was a new experience for me. I saw an amazing number of full bottles lying around. I figure they got knocked out unnoticed when people had their bikes over their shoulders for the crossing. Seemed kind of funny at first but then I started thinking about how much that missing bottle could mess up somebody’s race!
Once the turn onto Hughes Access was in the books, I was able to settle in and relax. From there it was steady on and mostly uneventful. I was able to catch a good group where several people were rotating at the front and taking good pulls. We made it around in a little over four and a half hours -- well within the limit for platinum.
Now I’m in kind of a weird place mentally because the whole reason I started cycling two years ago was to get platinum in El Tour de Tucson. Having been blessed to achieve that goal, I need a new focus to stay motivated. Fortunately, there is a lot to choose from here in the southwest. Also, as a new member of the IC3 racing team, I can work toward team goals rather than just personal goals. It is going to be a great year!