by Michael Hast
Praises be to our Heavenly Father for an awesome race at the Tour de Mesa. Congratulations to Conor for taking 1st place in the 34 Mile distance. Congratulations also to Charlie from Bicycle Ranch who was in the break with Conor.
"Great race this morning; finally got my first win! Got into a 2-man break that was eventually caught, but was able to take the sprint. h/t to Charles Everett for the smart and aggressive racing...and the pics! Congrats on your podium; well-deserved" (Conor)
by Michael Hast
Praise the LORD and congratulations to Gary and Michael for placing on the podium at the 2017 Arizona State Time Trail (TT) Championship. Congratulations also to our competitors Kevin, Greg and Scott.
We got up early Sunday morning driving to Arizona City. I decided to ride in the 40+ Merckx category because I don't have a TT bike. I also thought to myself, it would be good training for the upcoming Bike the Bluff Cat 3 Road Race Championship, staying in the aero position as long as I could. Gary started in the Cat 4 category.
My goal was to keep my threshold power as steady as I could. I have never raced with a power meter before and knew that it would be challenging to keep that power up. Right before the race I remember that I hadn't calibrated my power meter and in the rush of heading to the start line, the calibration failed. Well, I should have done this at warmup. Once I started, my Garmin showed nothing for power. I thought to myself, well, the power meter battery must have died, even though I just replaced it 2 weeks ago. Ok, heart rate it is. I started out hard, my heart rate went into race zone and I started to wonder if I am pushing it too hard. I caught the rider who started 30 seconds ahead of me in my category fairly soon. That gave me even more reason to speculate if I am hitting it too hard. After passing the rider, boom, power data was showing again.
Calibrated or not, I was glad it was back and now I focused on my threshold power. It was very hard to stay at that number, the bumpy road, the perceived head wind, the fatigue. I was very glad to see the turn around point. I passed a few riders on the way to the turn around, but after that no more passing. That made it much harder going back, even though there was no head nor tail wind. I saw Brandon and Jesse who raced in the Merckx Under 40 category in the far distance, but never made any gain on them. It is alway nice to have a target ahead of you. I tried to stay as aero as possible on my road bike, continuing to focus on my power data. After 1:02:26 I crossed the finish line, winning the Merckx 40+ category.
#togodbetheglory #howihammer #christiancyclingtucson #christiancycling #timetrails #arizonastatechampionship
by Michael Hast
We raced in various categories in the Campus Criterium on Saturday and then on Sunday in the Oracle Road Race at the Santa Catalina Omnium. Congratulations to Steven Terry for placing 3rd in the Omnium in the Cat 4/5 35+. It was a strong field where Philip Brown from Aggress won.
Men Cat 3/4
The Campus Criterium course was clockwise around the mall at the UfA with a sweeping corner on the west side and a hairpin corner on the east side (at Campbell). Every time we accelerated out of both of those corners which took a toll on the field. My strategy was to make it hard for the first 10 minutes of the race to shake up the field. On the 4th lap there was a crash on the hairpin turn because the first rider went into the turn with too much speed. We all went around him, I took the lead and a prime was announced. I was able to lead the pack around the course and won the prime, a box of R Bars. I was also able to win the second prime, a pair of tires from the Bicycle Tire Club. My plan wasn't to win the primes, but to find someone in the field to work with for a possible break. But nobody in the field thought it was a good idea. I eventually faded from all those accelerations and was passed through to the end of the field. I stayed there until the end of the race. But the accelerations kept on going.
The Campus Criterium was already a tough race with all those accelerations, but the Oracle Road Race with over 4000 ft. of climbing on a 54 mile course was even more challenging. The climbers among the racers were definitely favored to win in the road race. My plan was to stay with the field until the final climb. And I should have listened to my plan. On the first climb 2 riders broke away and stayed away. After the turnaround in Oracle we headed into a headwind and nobody wanted to work to chase down the 2 riders. I attacked and wanted to bridge to those riders to potentially work with them and get a head start on the second climb. I caught the first rider Peter, but he wasn't able to stay with me on the downhill. After that I worked hard to catch the first rider, but never able to. The field caught me right after the turnaround at the bottom of the climb. Now the final climb was upon us. I stayed near the end of the field of 20 riders to protect myself from any cross or head winds. It worked out pretty well, but when the attacks started to happen my legs did not respond as I wanted them to. There was a decisive attack heading into the outskirts of the town of Oracle which I was unable to respond to. The winners of the race had about a 30 second lead on me when crossing the finish line. I placed 9th and was pretty happy with my first Cat 3/4 road race.
by Michael Hast
The plan for the Bike the Bluff road race was to start our attacks early and potentially send a teammate ahead of the peloton and then to bridge to him later in the race. It all started according to plan. Jimmy and I released Gary and Evan from Tolero Racing. They got about 50 feet from the peloton, when a bunch of riders started to chase them down. I launched an attack right before the highest point of the race, Juniper Point, trying to see who would be willing to stay with me on the uphill. A junior racer from Team Winded was glued to my wheel and took off with me. I signaled him to work with me, but initially he didn't want to come around. He finally did on the downhill after Juniper Point, but due to his junior gearing, he spun out and it was hard for him to keep the speed going downhill. The peloton caught us and I went to the middle of the peloton. The junior rider was still glued to my rear wheel.
A group of about 5 riders took off after my attack. We let them go to about a distance of 200 yards before we started a pace line to wheel them back in. The pace line didn't really close the gap, so I attacked with the intent to bridge to the 5 riders on the last climb before the turn to Clay Springs. There were about 5 riders with me, one of them being Leo Carrillo. I wanted Leo to be in my break because Leo is a very strong Ironman. He knows how to time trial and can put out an immense amount of power on downhills or straights. I did not want him to chase me down. After we bridged to those 5 riders, some of them broke off and we ended up with an 8 rider break. Going through Clay Springs we had about a lead of 100 yards. I was asked if we could make the break succeed and answered with a confident absolutely. Coming out of the last corner of Clay Springs I went to the front and hammered as hard as I could to the final hill before the next 20 mile downhill. On the downhill Leo went to the front and increased our lead quite considerably. Our group worked well together all the way to Taylor, where our strength started to fade.
We climbed the finals hills from Taylor back to Show Low without any attacks. The chase group didn't get any closer and we prepared ourselves for the finish. Everybody did just enough work to get by. On the last hill where our speed went down to 10-12 mph, I was planning to attack, but because of the strong headwind I decided to wait. After the 1 mile to go sign, I launched an attack and had a little gap. But I faded rather rapidly due to the aforementioned strong headwind. Another rider attacked, but had a cramp in his hamstring. Then I remembered my teammate Jimmy's observation, be first or second on the final corner and be first or second on the podium. I saw the corner, attacked, went first though it and then pedal, pedal, pedal, don't cramp hamstring, pedal some more. Right before the finish line, I saw 2 front wheels in my peripheral vision, but I held on to win.
What a wonderful moment to be able to win the Arizona State Championship Road Race in Category 4.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ." (Eph 1:3)
I wanted to thank my family for coming with me to Show Low and spending their morning with me on the race venue. Thanks to all my teammates, especially Jimmy and Gary for their support, insight and wisdom before and during the race. Many thanks also to all of our sponsors!
#christiancycling #christiancyclingtucson #ic3tucson #bikethebluff #togodbetheglory #statechampionship
by Michael Hast
Friday's race was the Masters Men Cat. 4/5 40+. It was a combined race of Masters Men Cat. 4/5 30+/40+/50+ with a field size of about 30 riders. I had high hopes because the course, an L-shape course with a 180 degree turn, was the same as last year. Last year the acceleration out of the 180 degree turn caught me by surprise, so this year I accounted for that in my training. Jimmy and Jeff (from Colorado) raced together with me, but in a different age category. At the begin of the race it was announced that some riders would be randomly drug tested after the race by USADA. It was important for us to check in after the race, otherwise that rider would have been found positive for testing for drugs.
Before the race, I didn't really strategize with Jimmy nor Jeff. We just wanted to get a feeling for the competition and the race course. My intent was to tire out the competition with attacks and then eventually end up in a break. That only worked to a certain degree, the competition said they were hurting during the race, but not enough to launch a break away. So we ended up with a mass sprint to the finish and I didn't set myself up early enough to place in the top 10. Jimmy and I placed 6th in our categories.
After the race I almost forgot to check in with the race officials to see if I was chosen for the random drug test, but thanks to Jimmy for reminding me. Annnnnnnd I was chosen for drug test. Well after a 30 minute race in the afternoon sun, it was hard pee in the cup. 6 riders were chosen and we all drank at least 3 bottles of water. 1 1/2 hours later it was finally over. I definitely don't envy the pros that have to do this all the time.
by Michael Hast
On Sunday was the Cat. 4 State Criterium Championship race. So far this year the Cat. 4 races have been more competitive than the Masters Cat. 4/5 40+ races. So I was looking for some strong young riders to go on a break with. Jimmy told he was hesitant to go to the front of the pack during Fridays race in fear of being stuck up front. I told him our strategy should be that he should go up front and I will launch an attack to relieve him from the front position. Or we would both go to the front and one of us attack.
After the 1st lap we did just that, we went to the front just after the 180 degree turn, but didn't launch an attack just yet. I was waiting for prime to be announced and someone chasing that prime. Someone always does and so the attack was on. The attack after the 1st prime didn't succeed, but there is always another prime. The rider who won the second prime had a decent gap (see video 1:00 min) and after catching that rider, I launched another attack. Adam from Tucson Endurance followed, passed me, telling me we had a gap (see video 1:28 min). From that time I dug deep and wanted that break to succeed. Adam and I worked well together switch the lead every half a lap. Eventually Adam told me, he will dig in one more time and bring me to line for me to take a the prime and them I am on my own. He worked hard and had to drop back (see video 2:18). Adam from the MORE Foundation Cycling Team bridge up to me and brought new energy into the break. At times he put in such an effort that I couldn't hold his wheel. But I dug in deep and said to myself, if this is the last lap of my life, let's give it all I got. With 2 laps to go we had about a 20 second gap which is not much, but after a 35 minute race the chasers are usually tired as well. Starting on the last lap after the 180 degree turn Adam sprinted which took me by surprise, but I stayed calm and concentrated on catching his wheel again. After the last turn we both started our sprint and Adam out sprinted me. I was very happy and give thanks and all the glory to my Heavenly Father for the 2nd Place finish in the Cat. 4 and winning one prime.
I have to give thanks to my wife Tina who cheered me on and took this video, to Jimmy for lending me his backup bike (the team bike ;-)) and both Adams and their teammates who helped the break to succeed.
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!!!
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)
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.
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.