Independence Valley Road Race Report from J. Stern

This past Saturday (on my birthday) I attended the Independence Valley Road Race located in Rochester, WA about 90 minutes north of Portland and the same distance south of Seattle. The course consisted of four, 20 mile laps with two, 3-minute punchy climbs per lap and a long, winding, flat cross wind section in the middle. The course was beautiful with rolling green hills, tree lined dairy farm terrain and picturesque vistas in every direction. I didn’t even wear a base layer because it felt like a blue-bird Santa Barbara spring day.

There is something unique about entering a race when you don’t know a soul on the start line. Out of the 53 guys I lined up against on Saturday, I had met one of them once before; at Handlebar in March 2015 before San Dimas, but I didn’t even remember what he looked like (a former racing buddy of Aaron’s, Morgan Schmitt).

Not only did I need to learn the course during the first couple laps, I had to spend energy learning the good and bad wheels – who to follow and who to stay away from. I definitely felt like one of the stronger and smarter riders from the gun just by observing the others around me. That didn’t change the fact that I felt I had a lot to do to stay competitive early on.

The Audi team was well represented with nearly 10 guys, so they attacked from the gun and were in every move all day long. I knew racing by myself that I needed to conserve energy whenever possible, only covering attacks when necessary.

From the course profile I found on Strava, I figured it wouldn’t be selective enough to eliminate all the big sprinters because of the pancake flat finish coming approximately 10k after the second climb. I identified the USAC predicted race winner, David Richter (also the Washington State champion), by his sweet custom jersey and his #1 bib number. I quickly made friends with him at the back of the pack in the middle of lap 3 after we had shed two thirds of our field. “Got a bit of a target on your back?” He chuckled and we shook hands. This was the wheel to be on and I spent the next lap shadowing him perfectly.

Coming into the the final climb I found myself a bit too far forward and leading our diminished group of 20 or so up the road as the pitch kicked. I eased off a little and let a few others come around me to push the pace before slotting in over the top.

After the fast descent down the backside I covered a move that seemed dangerous, but got reeled in. I probably should have just stayed on David’s wheel like I had been for the last 30 minutes, sticking to my original plan. A two-man break ended up going a few minutes later with less than 10k remaining in the race containing an Audi guy that ultimately stayed away. No one wanted to chase after the barraged of previous attacks so their move was timed perfectly. In an instant we were all racing for 3rd place. I somehow ended up on the front with less than 5k to go and couldn’t get off in time to recover and prepare for the sprint.

It definitely cost me a top ten as David went on to take the field sprint for 3rd. My legs felt good and I should have trusted my initial instinct and strategy staying behind the seasoned Washington State Champion veteran. Sometimes, my strength can get the best of me in stressful race situations that require quick thinking.

These ‘B’ races are great places to fine tune race tactics – which is in my belief what will take me to the next level. I by no means have perfected it, but every time I race I learn something new to refine my strategy. Everyone is strong; it’s the riders that know best when to use their strength in a tactical manner to create opportunities that will ultimately experience success, moving up levels. The past few races I’ve truly realized how mental the whole experience is. Chess on two wheels with the emphasis on chess – the strategy is where my focus has been. If I can make fast, concise decisions I need to trust my body will follow with what I ask. At least until a point, but that is what we train for…we race to sharpen the mind. I ended up 17th, which despite my mistake in the end is an improvement over my 1st P/1/2 race in Bakersfield earlier this month. Another good race experience to build off and keep under my belt for next time. Stoked to represent FMBR in our first race outside the state of California!
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The remainder of our field, strung out in the cross wind section. I’m on the wheel I needed to stay on.
Photo by Ronald Jones

Stage 3 Recap by Bbakes

Stage 3 – Circuit Race

Coolest circuit I have raced thus far. Well done to the organizers for the route on this one.

The first few laps were nervous for the group, I had to use my recently sharpened bumping skills from our team training on a few overly anxious riders over the course, but it was all smooth besides that. On lap 3, I noticed @boyhero had moved up the road solo and wanted to get there and work with him. I attacked and got clear to turn what was a 9 minute effort to bridge and got two others to join. We dropped one and the 3 of us worked well together in the slightly increasing wind. We managed to get around the women’s field on lap 7 or so and that helped secure our break. I asked for a time split around lap 9 or 10 on our still smoothing pulling break and the official said “1:30” – a few steady, yet hard laps later and we had 2 minutes up on the group and I think the 3 of us knew we had it. However, the race is not done until the finish line. We worked together the whole way. I lead out the final 1.5km and then sprinted for the line securing the win.

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It was nice to cap off a good weekend with a win and I was stoked on my fitness. You never know what you have until you test it. Congratulations to everyone who raced over the weekend. I will definitely come back to the TdM. 

Now a lot more work and learning begins in the 2s (starting tomorrow w/ Castaic RR).

Let’s have some more fun competing with FMBR!

TDM Stage 2 – DT Crit

Stage 2 – Downtown Criterium.

The course was slightly sketchy with turns going straight into rain gutters and fast pave bends before the finish. From the whistle, all I really could think about was the finish and where I would need to start sprinting. My buddy Cameron Bond and I got a decently sized break to go around 20 minutes into the race. He and I had a small gap for a few laps. I enjoy racing like that – feeling like you are being chased and managing to stay clear is exciting, but that didn’t last as we got brought back and went back into the peloton. The final two laps were fast and I wanted to get to the front without being a lead out for someone else. The winner in the TT went to the front and strung out the group and I held his wheel went into the final turn around the top 10. I started sprinting around 500 meters out; a long way out, but I felt like I had a chance that way. It held strung out and I had a chance at a bike throw finish. 2nd. Again. Though I was happy about this consistency.

I would like to add I did make a few mistakes in the race and apologize for that to any riders. I learned and will improve.

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Race Report: Stage 1 – Tour de Murrieta

A 3 part series on Bbakes’ last 3 races as a Cat 3 – in his own words.

I feel I should add some context to my race reports. I am writing from the perspective of my first full season of racing bicycles. I love that I get to travel and race around our state and elsewhere, especially with a quality team like FMBR. Please excuse some slight ignorance on my part as I am growing to love the sport more & more.

Tour de Murrieta

Stage 1 – 6.7 km TT.

If starting a time trial last gives you confidence by aiding in the mindset of reeling in fish, starting in the first few riders is like having a hungry bear in the wild see you before rolling off the ramp. The wind was blowing fairly hard so that would help the bear catch my scent in his quest to take me down.

So, I started 2nd using my road bike for the stage knowing I would still be fairly well equipped for it as the road also went up a dirt climb with plenty of corners. With the help of some borrowed clip-on TT bars and a aero helmet from local SB legend William Lupo, I set off into the sweet cross-side wind and stayed tucked as low as possible. The first 3k was on rolling terrain and I did my best to keep a fast pace without going “ to hard” in the beginning. As I turned up the hill, the wind changed into a full-on headwind. Essentially, the last 3k would be all on dirt and it was AWESOME. I dodged a few cars on the course coming down the hill (open road tactics) and managed to get to the line feeling happy about the effort despite being 2nd (editor’s note: he’s used to winning). I went for a training ride after to think that one over and then returned to my host home to eat. Good start to the race and a great day overall.

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Brandon Dominates in Murrieta!

FMBR sent a lone rider south to the Inland Empire and the Tour de Murrieta this past weekend seeking & finding his final Cat 2 upgrade points. Bbakes took 2nd in the TT on Day 1, 2nd in the criterium on Saturday and took the win in the road race securing his place on the top step once again in the overall omnium standings.

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We’ll see you in Santa Clarita this weekend for the Chuck Pontius Omnium! Thanks to our friends at Santa Clarita Velo for hosting this fantastic, local event. A classic and tough road race is expected for Saturday…

 

Vlees Huis Ronde Road Race Results

FMBR came out gunning yesterday and left with another slew of results!

4s: David Silverander – 4th

45+: Mark Fennell – 10th

55+: Quentin Sims – 3rd

60+: Owen Thomas – 1st

P/1/2: David Priest – 18th, Jeffrey Stern – 20th,  John Echeveste – dnf

3s: Brandon Baker – 1st,  Jason Hannon – 2nd, Bobby Lozoya – 22nd

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That is 2 wins, 4 podiums, 5 top fives and 6 top tens out of 10 total racers in only 6 races. Thanks Sam Barn for putting on an excellent event with free frites and beers to boot! We’ll definitely be back…#FigFaster

In Yellow All Weekend Long

Words from the one and only Bbakes about his experience winning FMBR‘s first yellow jersey at the Chico Stage Race…

Going to races with a team makes a huge impact on my mental frame of mind, and it is a reassuring feeling. David, Nate and I would be racing closely together for the weekend. Stoked.

Stage One – Circuit race

The three of us all warmed up in the parking lot, excited and laughing.

The first couple of laps around the excellent surface of the Thunderhill Raceway was mostly smooth sailing even with a fairly fast pace. David threw a silent attack over the middle hill and instantly got space over the descent – I learned from his smart move. A few other fliers went, yet nothing stuck – every move was always in sight by the group. The final lap came quick and I moved myself to the front with 3 turns to go. I opened up the sprint from what I believed to be 500 meters and a world away and managed to pull out the win by a bike throw.

Stage Two – Road Race

I received the yellow leader’s jersey after winning the stage the previous day and that means I got marked all day long. The peloton had 90 miles and 8 miles of gravel – I was greened with excitement about some dirt! The race was extremely relaxed in the neutral rollout from the Buckhorn Lake Recreation area and stayed chill until about 3k from the gravel where the center line disappeared (and with it the rule so to speak). Our peloton ramped up and went full gas. It was important for all of us to get to the front and hold position – David and I did just that. On the second lap the two of us shelled the group from around 80 riders to about 30 by the end of the gravel and a brutal kicker through the feed zone.

I’d like to make note how important it is to make friends in a peloton, if that can be done. A kid on the Specialized Cycle Sport Team gave me a bit of water while I was running short. He has a killer instinct when racing, yet, to make a move stick he realized he needed to give me help. What a great competitor. Thanks Sam!

Beyond the gravel on the second lap, a few of us tried to work together and split things in a cross wind and after a few hard attempts, managed to strong arm a more select group which romped into the rolling finish with some speed. I got to front, went to the fresh air, went a bit early and got 3rd. I worked a lot over the race, but we had another safe and good finish.

Stage 3 – Time Trial

I borrowed a TT bike and rode it for a hour prior to leaving for the race weekend and let me tell you, TT bikes are radical.

A good warm up was important as I was told by my wiser teammates. I always do my best to listen and learn when I can. I would be starting off last with 30 second gaps between riders. I rolled off and had to find any sort of self control that I have in my body and use it to go easy for the first 3-5 minutes of this 16k pancake flat course.

I settled in and put my body as flat as possible, opened my mouth to breath and let the drool flow (hahaha).

I had two beast ahead of me and that was all the motivation I needed. I put in what I felt was a decent ride and was able to ramp up the power all the way through. David and I rolled back and cooled down on the trainers. The organizers of the Chico Stage Race did a wonderful job of making the results available immediately and David informed me soon thereafter that I had won giving me a 30+ second time cushion going into the criterium. Let’s have some more fun!

Stage 4 – Criterium

6 corners and some narrow streets.

Gotta keep it together!

The race was fast from the whistle. I got to the front of the field and parked there.

45 minutes of hard racing is pretty fun and it was bar to bar the whole time. I found some outside lines that helped me hold position and had to do some chasing of my own during the prime laps to keep things together, but everyone was motivated to win. The final lap was hectic and a bit nerving, but I managed to elbow my way to 7th or 8th wheel into the final turn and opened up the sprint. I should have been closer and had myself in a better position but I was able to move around a stalled rider and ride to fifth place.

I managed to retain the Yellow Jersey for my team. What a fantastically fun and growing weekend of racing. Thank you to each one of the people on my team for their positive attitude and advice, it makes for an easy environment to succeed in!