Two Cat 2 Upgrades in One Day + Weekend Results

Both Bobby & Jason H. earned their elite upgrades today – Bobby from his win at the IVC yesterday and Jason from his result at the Sea Otter Circuit Race. They are FMBR’s 3rd & 4th elite upgrades since January, a nearly 50% growth rate of the P/1/2 team in 3 months!

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Photo by Lola Tinney

The team bagged 1 win, 4 podiums, 8 top fives & 10 top tens – full weekend results can be found here. The 10th Annual Dana Point Gran Prix is this weekend!

Sea Otter Road Race, Mens 55+ by Owen

A solid field of about 25 riders lined up for the Men’s 55+ Sea Otter Classic Road Race on Friday, April 15th. The field was very competitive and included two past winners, one of the best 55+ climbers in the State, and one of SoCal’s finest, Greg Fenton. Quentin Sims and I were representing FMBR. Last year at this race I was dropped on lap 4 of 5 on Hennekins Ranch Bump. Hennekins is a 3 minute VO2 max climb that is not too bad the first time up, but I struggle with the three minute power compared to a lot of these other guys.

As the race was about to start the official mentioned that this year was a six lap race. What the heck I thought, six times up that hill!? We started with a neutral downhill (the finishing climb) and a two mile ride to the circuit. I found myself unprepared for a hauling-ass descent behind a motorcycle which was going about 40 miles an hour. Before I knew, it I was at the back and we were starting at the bottom of the bump.

The pace was not too bad and I located Quentin’s wheel as a reference point. He is so good that I know that if I am close to him I am always going to be in good position. The course has several other “bumps” all of which we hit at an annoyingly high tempo. We would charge the punchy climbs full gas, including a sprint to the top, then shut it down and recover – bump after bump, and lap after lap. I really hate riding like this as I am steady grinder type.

After about four laps, attrition started to set in and only 10 or so were making it over Hennekins together. All the favorites were there and several attacks were made. At the onset, I decided I was going to ride conservatively because I was so worried about getting dropped on the bump. I let the favorites do the chasing as attack after attack was reeled in. In truth most of the attacks just died, so no one was really doing that much work except on all the punchy little bumps.

At the end of the sixth lap we passed the bottom of Hennekins and turned onto Barloy Canyon Road. This was the finishing climb of 2.2 miles. The bottom .7 miles are pretty mild, maybe 2-3%, but the final 1.5 miles kicks up to 5-10%. Someone up front decided they were going to string things out right away as we hit the bottom. I moved up quickly not wanting to miss any action and got into 5th position right behind the 60+ Southern Cal District Champ. That was a good wheel, as he held onto the three leaders in front of him.

The three leaders were really burning as we hit the steeper section about a mile from the finish. All of a sudden the wheel in front of me faltered a bit, so I decided to surge around. If there was ever a time to burn a match, that was it! But shoot, somehow the three in front had gained a ten second gap on me and I could not close it. In fact, at about 200 meters I realized that I was done! Not done completely, but the legs were going fast and I just tried to hold on figuring that whoever was trying to close behind me was feeling the same. The 200 meters went by and I finished in fourth about 20 seconds behind Quentin (3rd), Carl Neilson (2nd), and Greg Fenton who won decisively. While I would like to have finished stronger, this was a great result for me and the personal victory over the Hennekins Ranch Bump was very satisfying.

2016 SCNCA Elite Road Race Championships – 29th Annual San Luis Rey Road Race

Race report from our team director David ‘The Beast‘ Priest.

I showed up to San Luis Rey Road Race with some pretty high hopes of a good result. A long, 103 mile race with just enough climbing to soften up the pure sprinters, but not enough to let the little climbers leave my XL frame in their dust is usually right up my alley. I had been fighting off a cold all week and hadn’t ridden much leading up the race, so I really didn’t know what to expect but I was committed to racing hard (Editor’s note: Priest the Beast always races hard) and finding out. I rode aggressively in the first hour of the race and confirmed my confidence that I had the legs to race for a good result. Despite my attempts to stay hydrated I developed a headache that progressed until it felt like my head was pouring through the vents in my helmet. As my headache progressed my awareness and mental sharpness rapidly declined – I was in trouble. I was dehydrated and hot riding my bike straight to struggle street. Despite all of this I managed to ride my way into the winning move of 7 riders with about 35k to go just as the remaining peloton shattered to bits. I could hardly see straight, but I had made the winning move and I knew if I could just survive to the final climb I could survive my way to a good result.

While heading up the climb to start the last lap it became very clear that my body was simply not going to allow me to ride at the intensity needed to stay in the lead group. I was dangling about 30 seconds off the back of the lead group starting the last 14-mile lap with at least a minute on any remains of the race chasing us from behind. I told myself to just ride a steady tempo and I had a top 10 in the bag at least. Quickly, my steady tempo turned into the dreaded combination of pedaling and coasting that every cyclist who has reached that point of failure knows. I couldn’t think, eat, drink and most importantly pedal. I was utterly shattered and no gel or drink was going to save me. I simply could not bare the thought of getting a DNF after I had the opportunity to be on the podium so late in the race. So, for the last 12 miles and 45 minutes I averaged 73 watts, stopped once and went from finishing top 7 to finishing next to last of the guys who actually finished the race. It was easily the worst and most physically painful meltdown of my cycling career. Cyclists like to talk about being shattered, shot out, exhausted and crushed at the end of a hard race. At the time, I  couldn’t articulate my name much less my state of exhaustion. In hindsight, I was reduced to a hollow body trying to turn over the pedals at roughly the power output of a small child. As athletes, we like to think that there is physical and mental growth in every challenging experience. Being able to grow and improve from failure is essential for bike racers because failure is an integral part of the sport even for the greats. I am all for growing as an athlete, but I can honestly say I would be happier if this experience never happened (Editor’s note: This race had a 50% DNF rate) Rest up and recover. Racing again next weekend.

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Brandon and David post race – exhausted

J-Baum’s Turlock Lake Road Race Report

This last weekend’s hunt for upgrade points found us driving 5 hours north to Turlock Lake Road Race. The course’s profile was mostly flat with two main sections of rollers in the middle and one last riser 200 meters to the line. Julia’s and my plan of attack going into the day was to keep the pace high to try and shatter our relatively small field of nine. I think the biggest surprise was that, despite the rain and various flooded sections of the course, the weather didn’t play a big role in the outcome of the race.

Julia put in a few attacks early in the race but the four JLVelo girls were quick to chase anything down and using their numbers to control the race. When we got to the rollers section I decided to get on the front and set an uncomfortable pace. I wasn’t trying to get away, but rather I wanted to tire people out and maybe pop some girls off the back. It worked out pretty well and big gaps started forming in the group. I was hoping that Julia would launch an attack, but the Mike’s Bikes rider beat her to the punch (she had been launching counter attacks off of our moves all race long). JLVelo chased it down and slowed down the pace just enough to let their dropped riders catch back on. We all settled into an easier pace through the flats again and Julia and I drifted to the back to talk tactics going into the next 22-mile lap. We both agreed that while JLVelo’s numbers couldn’t be ignored, the real girl to watch out for was the Mike’s Bikes rider. She had the strongest attacks and was racing smart.

We moved back up towards the front and a rider shouted out “Watch out, here comes the Fig double!” In addition to giving our tag team an amazing nickname, it was a nice confidence boost. As we approached the first section of rollers I moved to the front next to a JLVelo girl to pick up the pace like I had done the lap before. However, just before I could turn it up, Julia and another JLVelo rider fly up the road to our left. Instantly, the girl’s teammate and I start soft-pedaling at the front to give the attack its best shot at success. It was the right mix of riders as both of them had teammates in the pack that could play defense for them. It wasn’t long before the Mike’s Bikes rider got to the front of the field and started the chase by herself. The Team City rider didn’t have the legs to pull through and the Twenty 16 rider proved unwilling to help reel in the break. I was worried though when Julia and the JLVelo rider were still dangling just up the road from us after a few miles and were almost brought in by the insane effort from the Mike’s Bikes rider. However, looking back, I think having the break be in sight for so long really kept the motivation up for the chase, and ultimately tired out the rider Julia and I picked out as most dangerous.

Once we got to the second section of rollers the break finally got out of site. As a result, the Mike’s Bikes rider drifted to the back to conserve her energy for the field sprint just 6 miles down the road. I liked my odds, though. Field sprints are my strong suit and I had been conserving energy in the pack the entire second lap. Both the remaining JLVelo riders and the Team City rider got gapped pretty hard when I put in my efforts on lap one and Mike’s Bikes had just put in a huge effort trying to chase. I knew it would come down to me and the Twenty 16 rider (who sat in and conserved her energy all day) at the end, so I kept an eye on her. The 3k to go sign came and went. Then the 1k. Then the 500m. And just before the 200m sign and the rise to the finish the Twenty 16 rider launches her attack. “Too soon” I thought to myself; when the finish is uphill you want to launch closer to 150m to go. I followed her but couldn’t quite catch her wheel. About 30 feet from the line she faded and glanced back at me. I knew that was my shot. I gave everything I had left to accelerate just a bit more to come around her to win the field sprint and come in 3rd place. I was so jazzed that Julia and I both ended up on the podium and I’m insanely proud of how well we did in this race.

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J-Baum showing some #FigFast grit, taking the field sprint and stepping onto the podium – photo by Katie Truong

San Dimas Through the Eyes of Julia

This weekend marked the first time I have entered San Dimas Stage Race.  I had heard a lot about this iconic stage race; the uphill time trial, the technical road race and the lively downtown criterium.

I knew that doing well in the TT was important and was hoping to get my body from the bottom to the top in 21 minutes or just under. I had a good warm up on the trainer and carefully rolled over to the start line. While I was being held on the start line I looked down at my Garmin to realize the rookie in me had made a mistake and my Garmin was not paired to my power meter.   Without power it would be a time trial all about sensing how I felt – I still ended up 5th.

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That afternoon the Fig Mtn Brew Team did an easy recon ride on the road race course and it was a good thing that we did because the course was technical. The best word I heard used to describe the course was hectic. It was a race that required strong legs fueled by a sharp mind. I was somewhat frustrated by the number of times our field was neutralized and how frequently that brought dropped riders back into the group. In lap two, there was a crash right ahead of me that slowed me down.  Vanessa Snapp, a good friend, classy racer and race leader clad in yellow and I rode hard to get back into the group. On lap two, cones had been placed on to our course that had not been there on previous laps causing confusion and chaos to our group. On lap three I had visions of helping our sprint phenomenon and teammate, Jess Baumgardner get sprint points by leading her out, but after  being neutralized 500 meters before the line Jess did a commendable job of initiating the sprint and still getting third. The bell rang for the last lap and the mission was getting over Hecklers Hill.  After some mild Heckling on Hecklers hill, a few women worked towards making the group small for the final lap by upping the speed so no one could catch back on to our break. I am still sharpening my skills of putting the finish together in these field finishes, but was happy to come away with 8th place.

The last day of San Dimas Stage Race I was sitting 5th in the GC.  I tried to get myself excited for the crit and thought about attempting to win. To tell you the truth I was a little frustrated on the start line and just wanted to do my job and be done. After a well presented call up and start from the SC Velo volunteers, we were racing. I found compared to the field I had an easier time moving up on a long, shallow hill on the back side of the crit course. This became even more apparent as the crit went on. This was an area of strength for me. I noticed I was working a lot more coming out of corners because this was an area of weakness for me. With 4 laps to go I couldn’t wait for the crit to be over, mentally I had settled on a mid-field finish. On the last lap I was sitting on the back of a group of about twenty.  As I entered turn 1, I heard my teammate Brandon Baker say, “lead it out!” At turn 2, I thought, okay fine, why not?’ At turn 3 I thought, ‘starting moving’ and I worked up the right side to advance about half way through the field. Turn four cam around and I thought ‘now what?’  I wasn’t sure how I was supposed to get my bike up to the real front. Turn five I worked on the right side and noticed another rider accelerate. I followed two wheels behind her and waited for her to get just a little tired and slow her roll. She did and I moved forward and put down the throttle. I took turn six as best as I could and opened up my sprint. This was going to be good enough to lock in third.  I was so thankful for Brandon’s advice. It was instrumental in my podium and shows me yet another benefit of having teammates. It was the sweetest day of the whole stage race, getting points for my upgrade.


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Silverander’s Race Reports from CCCX

Fort Ord is an enormous (~28,000 acre) former US Army base near Seaside, CA, perched on the edge of the pristine Monterey Bay. The rolling terrain and abundant closed roads make for lots of great bike racing opportunities. Most notably, the area is home to the annual cycling family reunion and race week known as the Sea Otter Classic.

Less prominent—but much appreciated by anyone seeking plentiful chances to race—the Central Coast Cycling Road Series also takes place on Fort Ord. Known as CCCX, in homage to its Cyclocross roots, the race series takes place frequently throughout the year and the schedule is such that most racers can get in 2 or sometimes 3 races in a day. That fact makes CCCX a favorite of those, like myself, who are hunting for upgrade points.

The classic CCCX course is a great rolling loop around the base with plenty of punchy hills to test the legs. With a construction project currently preventing racing on that course, the organizers have substituted an out-and-back course that is not quite as interesting but still makes for great racing.

The Seaside Bay View Circuit Course we raced this weekend traverses a straight road with good pavement and a nice assortment of rollers to keep things interesting. Also keeping things interesting are the U-turns at either end of the course, which force riders to slow down quite a bit and are generally followed by explosive efforts to regain speed and punish those who failed to position themselves well going into the turn. Indeed, in both races I did those turns would prove to be the deciding factor.

Category 4 Race

With no teammates and a large contingent from one team (San Jose Bicycle Club made up a third of the 18 rider field), I figured my best bet was to ride conservatively but remain attentive for any breaks containing their riders. The first half of the race saw the usual futile early attempts to get away, with people punching it on short uphills only to have the field roll right back to them on the subsequent downhill.

About halfway through the 50 minute race, someone attacked coming out of the far (relative to the start) U-turn, which is followed by a decent little uphill. Myself and five others were able to cover the move and we quickly realized that the rest of the field was not. Obviously, all of us liked our odds better in this reduced group (not to mention it made the U-turns more pleasant) so we did our best to cooperate and keep the others from joining back on. Having 2 of the SJBC riders in our group of 7 definitely increased the odds of pulling that off.

We succeeded in staying away and for the last several laps it was obvious we’d be sprinting each other. It was clear enough that everyone was conserving a bit of energy and thinking through their best bet for the sprint finish, which is at the top of a hill. Prior to the race, I’d overheard some masters recapping their completed races and asked them for any advice regarding the finish. Very helpfully, they pointed to a certain light pole at about 200 meters to go and said that was the spot to open it up. Anything before that would probably be too early given the uphill slope and slight headwind.

Coming into the finish, someone went early and we all jumped on his wheel. I stayed as patient as possible and held off my best effort until we reached the light pole. That worked out well, as I was able to advance through several riders who were fading at that point. Three of us got good separation from the others, with the eventual winner ahead by a couple meters. Second place and I were neck and neck at the line and closing down the gap to first. I was happy with the finish and my sprint effort, and extra happy to know that I had just earned the 2 points I needed for my upgrade to Category 3.

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Category 3/4 Race

With my points in my pocket, I decided just to have fun with this race and see how it developed. The afternoon had delivered a pretty solid headwind on the outbound portion of the course and this, combined with that fact that most of us had already raced at least once, made for a painfully slow first lap.

On the second lap, there was another attack at the far U-turn and this time only 4 of us ended up covering it. We agreed quickly to work together and set about taking brief, hard pulls. One young rider was popped from our group pretty quickly, leaving 4 of us to share the work. Everyone left seemed pretty strong and competent, so I committed myself to the break and took good, honest pulls to do my best to help keep us away.

The apathy that marked the start of the race seemed to continue for the main field and pretty quickly we had a good gap on them. About halfway through the 50 minute race we had more than 30 seconds on the field and I felt our odds of staying away were good. We continued working together well and the gap grew with each time around. Coming into the final lap, it was clear that they would not be getting us back, so we all started resting up the legs a bit for the finish sprint.

I led us through the final U-turn, which was a mistake because that put me on the front coming into the finish. With no one to chase us down, things got very tactical and slow as I tried to find my way off the front of the group. Again, someone opened up the sprint from ~500 meters out and we all jumped on his wheel. He faded pretty quickly, leaving three of us to duke it out. I tried my best but couldn’t pass either of the other riders, giving me another 3rd place finish.

All in all, two results I was pleased with and a satisfying way to close out my career as a 4. There are 5 more CCCX race days this year—some of which will cover a different, looping course—so go check them out if you’re looking for some solid racing in a beautiful place.

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Congrats on your 3s upgrade David!

Copperopolis & Berkeley Results…San Dimas starts tomorrow!

The FMBR team hit it’s first (minor) speed bump of the season, with a small by our #FigFast standards, trophy collection – just 1 top five finish by J-Bomb who is well on her way to a 2 upgrade!. Copperopolis is a brutally tough course and a couple teammates fell due to mechanicals. Full results are posted here.

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The team heads south to San Dimas this weekend. This stage race marks the start of the highly competitive Dimas/Redlands double-header which draws racers from around the nation. It’s our goal to eventually field a competitive P/1 team in future seasons! For 2016 we will showcase a strong and dynamic 2s squad as well as representation in 3 other categories. Follow us on Instagram and Twitter for updates as the stage race rolls along!