by Michael Hast
The Marana Heritage Criterium was put on for the first time by Tolero Racing, GST Racing and ChristianCycling Tucson. Because of our volunteer efforts at the event, I was the only one from our team to race. I approached Colton to work together to get a break going fairly early in the race. We decided to make our moves right after the primes were given. The first prime was announced after the first lap. We attacked, but got caught fairly early on Tangerine. We mixed with the pack until the second prime was announced.
During that prime lap the pace slowed down quite a bit and it came to a crash where Colton was involved. The crash happened behind me, so I didn't know until we passed that area on the next lap that Colton was out. I attacked after someone won the second prime and Noah from Tucson Endurance jumped on my wheel. I rode hard all the way on Tangerine to the turn on Lon Adams and saw Noah fade away. David from Team Santini USA caught up with me and we rode a few laps in the breakaway together. David did a couple of great pulls, but unfortunately couldn't keep the pace. I rode by myself for the last 2 laps and had a gap of 22 seconds. During those 2 laps I managed to win a prime, 2 Schwalbe tires. But on the last lap a rider did a monster pull for his friend, bringing the pack back to me on the finishing stretch. I got caught 200 meters before the finish. Here is a video of the finish posted by Christy Camera Photography.
It was great racing. I loved every minute of it. Let's do it again!!!
Tucson Bicycle Classic Race Report
by Buzz Wright
The TBC time trial is my favorite kind of time trial. A short one. There are some things that I hope they will change about this TT for next year though -- removing the climb, making the course a loop instead of a point-to-point, changing it from a distance-based event to time-based and having multiple laps of the loop done, switching it to a mass-start style and allow drafting, and for fun including a few special laps in there to sprint for prizes.
Ah yes, now that would actually be fun. The opposite of riding as hard as you can, puking nonstop for a couple hours, and then learning that you placed 40th, almost 2 minutes slower than the leader. Yuck.
My legs hurt and I was tired, but at least the road race allowed drafting. The plan was to stay near the front, conserve energy for the first two laps, and then work hard on the final lap to help Gary and Jimmy finish well. Gary dropped a bottle on the first lap so I told him to let me know if he needed fluids and I would share. The first lap was pretty tame until we got to the climb, where the pace pushed me into the red. I was able to fall back through the group though during the climb to minimize the pain.
We were going through the rollers section prior to turning back down Helmet Peak when I realized that Gary was off the back of the group. I looked at him and then looked at the front of the group, then back at him and tried to quickly decide what to do. I opted to fall off the group a bit to give Gary a sort of bridge to get back on. He wasn't too far and I felt a short strong effort would be all that was needed for him to make it back. I sat up and motioned for him to jump up to me. After about 30 seconds I looked back at the group and realized that there was a bit of a surge and the gap between the group and me was growing. I got nervous and looked back at Gary, then back at the group. I realized that my better option would be to get back in the group and try to help Jimmy, but after about a minute of chasing them I decided to sit up and wait for Gary so we could work together to try to catch them on Helmet Peak.
My indecision during that period essentially ended my race. Once we turned on HP I got to work trying super hard to regain contact with the group. We could see them up the road about 20 seconds ahead of us. My hope was they would take the descent somewhat easy (like we did on the first lap) -- but even though we were 30 seconds faster than the first time with the group on that segment, Gary and I were unable to catch them. The gap before we turned on La Canada was probably around 10 seconds. Once on flat land I was pretty gassed and told Gary we wouldn't be able to catch them. We continued to work hard together for the remainder of the race, making sure we stayed away from anyone who was behind us and hoping to be able to pick up a few guys as we went along.
It was pretty hot and with Gary missing a bottle we were in need of more fluids. When we passed through the feed zone on the final lap I yelled out for neutral bottles and was able to get three (thanks Jelly Belly). Turned out that Gary wasn't able to get any bottles so it was a good thing I grabbed three. We hydrated and pushed on, finishing in the same time as the race last year (but doing so without the assistance of the main group) -- the competition this year is definitely stronger.
The circuit race is a lot of fun and I was looking forward to it. Plan was the same but my legs were pretty much dead so I focused on conserving as much energy as I could with the hope that I wouldn't lose contact with the group. I moved up when the pace was easy and slid back with things got hard. This worked pretty well but on lap three I had trouble holding wheels and ended up about 3 bike lengths back during the rollers leading up to the finishing climb. I knew the pace would be hard up the climb and I was going to blow myself up trying to jump back up to the group so I looked back to see if there was anyone else I could work with. Turned out Stephen with Carlos O'Brien's was there with another rider. I sat up and waited for them and then the three of us traded pulls for a lap to attempt to get back in the group. Stephen and I ended up dropping the other rider and continued working together but without much hope of reaching the group.
Despite being dropped again it was a fun day of racing. Stephen and I worked hard and finished strong, though our placings weren't that great. Michael held onto his 3rd place spot on the GC so that was very cool. I look forward to this race next year and hopefully will have enough fitness next time to be more of a help for my teammates.
Buzz in the circuit race (photo by Damion Alexander)
Hungry Dog Criterium Race Report
by Buzz Wright
Both Gary and I were signed up for 3 races and my plan for all three was to work for Gary to try to get him some top-10 finishes and hopefully a few upgrade points. The course was new this year and I really liked it -- smooth and fast. There were a decent number of attacks in the this race, most of them getting chased down pretty quickly. One rider went off the front for a while but being solo nobody seemed too worried. He was left out for a few laps and then caught during a prime lap. With 4 to go I checked for Gary and started to get ready to put in a strong effort on the final lap for him.
Buzz hydrating (photo by Ricardo Arduengo)
We stayed near the front to defend our top-10-ish position and then on the bell lap I looked for the right time to burn my match. On the back stretch I pushed hard on the outside and moved us up a few spots heading into the last two corners. My legs were pretty spent and I wanted to save a little for the next two races so I decided to peel off before the final corner. Gary was able to get 10th place which was awesome but I think I could have pushed a little harder and continued my effort through the final corner to help him out more. Fun race, and Gary got a great result.
With the same plan and a lot of comfort with the course I had some high hopes for this race. Gary and I stayed near the front and within sight of each other. I took the outside lines through most of the corners while Gary opted for the inside lines to be more sheltered from the wind. Everything was going great until 2 laps to go when a rider touched wheels and went down. It happened to the left of me and I knew Gary was on that side but wasn't sure if it had taken him out. I checked a couple times and didn't see him so I figured he must have got caught behind it.
Buzz hanging on (photo by Ricardo Arduengo)
Without Gary on my wheel I decided to do my best to finish well and maybe get an upgrade point or two. On the bell lap I was able to get in to a fantastic position sitting 4th wheel, but my legs were screaming. We took the final corner and I put in the best sprint I could muster (which wasn't much). My jump just isn't there right now, not anywhere near what I had last year when I was training those anaerobic zones. I was passed by a couple guys and ended up taking 6th place, which was good enough for one point. I was happy with the result but concerned for Gary.
Turned out that Gary did go down in the crash, but he wasn't too banged up and his bike did not get damaged. He was disappointed but still wanted to race in the third race.
My legs were pretty toasted for this race, but I was able to hang on during the rough surges (one which lasted multiple laps) and maintain a decent position near the front of the group. I checked for Gary often and after a while noticed that he had been dropped from the group during that long, strong surge. With 4 to go I burned a couple small matches getting up to the front and with 2 to go I was sitting third wheel.
The guy at the front had done a lot of work and was looking pretty tired so I decided to shift back a couple spots because I didn't want to hit the front too early. I soft-pedaled through one of the corners to give up three positions and then slotted back in as we started the bell lap. During that lap the pace was blistering and I lost a couple positions prior to the final corner. I again had no sprint and was only able to get 13th place, but I was happy with how I had raced.
It was a great day, even though Gary hit the deck. We had a lot of fun hanging out with friends and watching the P123 race before heading back to Tucson.
San Tan Criterium Race Report
by Buzz Wright
Without teammates my general plan was to stay in the pack and save energy for the finish, with the hope of getting the last two upgrade points I need to move up to the 3's. Lynn and Evan from Tolero were also in this race and we chatted a bit pre-race about working together to get some good results for Tucson. I remembered two things from this race last year: the course is long-ish and the finishing sprint is short. You really need to be in the top 5 prior to the final corner if you want to podium.
Number pinning assistance from the steering wheel
The race was pretty tame to start but after a couple laps some attacks starting going, prompting chases. I surfed the group a bit and moved around to try to find the better sides to be on for the various corners. The course was fun and the pace was high with not a lot of surging, which was awesome. With two laps to go, Lynn went to the front and put in a nice hard pull while Evan and I sat in around 5-10 wheels back. Lynn's effort was great, stretching the group out single file and ensuring that Evan and I would be in good positions for the final lap.
On the bell lap Lynn pulled off and unfortunately nobody took over for him at the front, so as we entered the first of the final 4 corners the group bunched up and Evan and I were slightly swarmed. I knew that I needed to essentially put in 4 mini sprints and when a handful of guys passed me during that swarm I lost some motivation to really put everything I had into the finish. My mini sprints were 638w for 7 seconds, 447w for 3 seconds, 505w for 8 seconds, and then 706w for 7 seconds. I'm still lacking a lot of the jump that I used to have and my sprint is really flat/dull right now. Aerobic endurance comes back pretty quick but the top end takes a little longer.
Evan snagged 8th and I took 13th. Fun race, I really look forward to this one next year.
Evan had to head back to Tucson for his sister's gender reveal party. I sort of ruined the surprise for him by telling him that his sister, by definition, is female -- but he said he would pretend he still didn't know in order to not ruin the surprise for (her). Lynn sat out since he and Evan had decided to destroy their legs in the Masters 30+ race that started 5 minutes after the 4/5 race ended. I totally would have joined them in that ridiculousness except that at 23*, I'm not allowed to race with those old guys.
* What? There's no need for an asterisk there.
My legs weren't feeling great and my motivation wasn't very high for the 3/4 race since I was alone in it. But Lynn stuck around and cheered me on from the sidelines, which kept me from sitting up more than a couple times. The pace was faster in the 3/4 race but it was also much smoother, which was great because my legs were toast. Jetset had like 8 guys in the race and so they did the best they could to control the race, sending one of their guys off the front, trying to block a bit, then following moves as other guys bridged up. It never seemed like they really had control though and with a few laps to go I was surprised they weren't dictating how the race would finish.
I stayed near the front, knowing what I needed to do to finish well but lacking the strength to do it. The accelerations out of the corners caused small gaps that I had a lot of difficulty closing. The bell lap really hurt good, my legs were just screaming. I wasn't in a great position since I'd let so many gaps open up but I put in my mini sprints as best I could. On the final corner Ruben and another rider went down pretty hard when Ruben's wheel skipped on a bump and he lost his chain. I slowed momentarily and half-heatedly finished my sprint to the finish, getting 15th. I went back to check on Ruben -- he was fine, just a few scrapes and in high spirits. He'll be back contesting sprints next weekend at Hungry Dog.
I stuck around for a bit to watch some of Jocelyn's race and then headed home. It was a fun day of racing with good friends, some beautiful weather, and that glorious burnt-leg smell driving home.
by JJ Schmidt
I wanted to do this race last year but decided not to because I wasn't ready. I wasn't ready this year but decided to do it anyway. Buzz, Jimmy, Michael, Gary and Greg were registered for masters cat 4/5 35+. I signed up for the cat 5 race thinking that would be my best chance of staying with the group as long as possible.
We started with the Collegiate C group and the pace was not that bad. Half way up Old Spanish Trail I heard a guy say, "this is going to be a roll out for the first 35 miles." Not a minute later, some one attacked and the group took off. I was not prepared and found myself off the back. After the hill I started working with Burt and Matt, a couple of U of A guys. Matt and I took a couple of pulls on Loma Alta, and then Burt carried us around the corner and took a good pull on OST.
We caught another collegiate guy from New Mexico, Josef but lost Burt, who I found out later got sick and couldn't finish. I didn't realize it, but we lost Matt on OST also. I worked with Josef for the next four laps. On the third lap I saw Buzz walking his bike and offered him mine thinking that would get me out of finishing the race. No such luck. It was a tough race, but I had a good time and was grateful to Josef for working with me. After the race I had some great fellowship with my team mates and some wonderful food thanks to Ray and Diana.