Rough week leading up to Barrio nursing a strained quad. I wasn’t even sure I could race it. Well within the 3k marker to go on the final climb at SLR I went from a for sure top 10 being in the final group of 8 up the hill to having to practically stop pedaling as my leg cramped/seized. I couldn’t straiten my left leg. Was awesome watching a lot of people come by me for 22nd. Ha! Rode Sunday and new something wasn’t right. Got an MRI on Monday and turns out I had a slight upper quad strain. Spare you the finer details, but was told to take it easy. Took a couple of days off the bike and the rest of the week easy (as far as intensity goes) skipped all the usual rides. Felt good enough for some crit action.
Barrio Logan I Raced in the CAT 3/4 and Masters 45+.
CAT 3/4 Result: 10th. 62 entries! Was really hard to stay up front. Sketchy with all those people. Marked some moves, tried to make some moves and then missed the final break of 6th 😊. About 8 laps to go when they got away and I didn’t think it was the right one -wrong! We were keeping them about 100 yards away so I wasn’t panicking – mistake! So when the lap cards came out with 5 to go I figured it was time to get the peloton motivated and try to get it back. Went upfront and took a pull, wiggled the arm and a junior came around me, but no one else so I followed him, took another pull, wiggled the arm and another guy came around. That happened for a lap and a half. Then I took a pull and wiggled my arm and no one was coming around so I swung out wide looked at the group and said so that’s it were racing for 7th ? – Crickets. Got 4th in the field sprint.
Masters 45+ Result: 9th. A lot smaller field, but they raced the 35+ with us. Again, I missed the break (shocker) that happened early about the 3rd or 4th lap. There were 4 in the 45+ and 3 in the 35+ in the break. I was just too far back when it happened. I tried to bridge solo – Mistake! Oh so close, but then turned into the wind and cya later. Was way too windy and I didn’t have the horse power or fitness. Went back in the group. Then Greg Kogut went hard around the half way point and I went with him. We got a big gap and made up some ground, but we couldn’t do it. And since he had someone in the break I wasn’t even sure if he was trying to bridge or just make another break happen. I bailed and went back to the group which was the best decision I made all day between both races because we caught Greg with a few laps to go. In the field sprint hard to say exactly where I was, but it was definitely up front and in the mix and got 9th.
Great event and great day of racing. Injured leg was a non-factor.
On Saturday April 20 I dipped my toe into road racing. I’ve been doing quite a bit of cross training on my Tarmac and enjoying it. My racing license only allowed me to register in the Men Open Cat 5 or Men Masters 45+ 4/5 road race, so I registered in the 4/5 race. Two dozen riders lined up and we took off in a neutral start down a long descent. The first couple of laps were uneventful. The group kept a moderate pace on the rollers and there were no effective break away attempts. My heart rate was fairly low for what I knew I could hold in a two hour MTB race, so I went to the front on the climb back to the start and pushed the pace. We dropped a few riders, but the peloton mostly stuck together as a couple of us took turns at the front. This continued for a couple of laps. I thought a large group of R5Ciclismo riders from Orange Country might be able put something together, but nothing materialized.
At the turn into the last lap it felt like the race was suddenly on. A big-boned rider that had proven to be strong on the flats took off on the descent and quickly put a big gap on the peloton. We were already at 40+ mph and let him go, but we reeled him in within a few minutes of hitting the rollers at the bottom. Everyone was jockeying for position. I have been riding with a strong group of riders at lunch on Tuesdays and Thursdays that includes several UCC racers. The routes include Torrey Pines, Calle de Oro and Three Witches and I have become pretty confident in my ability to hang with just about anyone on long climbs, so I was stoked that this race ended with a long climb to the finish. I thought about attacking at the bottom of the hill to see if I could outlast the group for the three miles to the end and separate myself from the sprinters, but the pace had already picked up considerably. Riders jumped off the front a couple of times and I chased them down, hoping to work with someone to get a gap, but their efforts didn’t last long and they didn’t keep up when I took the lead, so the peloton would catch back up. I felt I was pushing at about 85-90% and knew I had plenty more to give should something happen. At the 1 kilometer to go mark I thought again about attacking but held off. As soon as I saw the 500M sign ahead, I attacked and hoped to surprise the group. The hill flattened out for a bit and I could feel riders coming up on either side of me. When the grade pitched up again I knew it was time to dig deep. We rounded the last corner and could see finish line ahead. I hoped the competitors were tiring out and I gave it all I had. I could hear them close behind, but was able to hang on for the win.
It was a great feeling to come out on top in a sprint finish. Greg Twitty come in 9th in the Masters 45+ Cat 1-3 in what looked like a blistering race with a 24 mph avg overall pace and stacked field and Greg Fenton podiumed at 3rd in the Masters 55+ Cat 1-4 race.
Pisgah Stage Race by Dan Mahlum
I was coming into the Pisgah Stage Race just over 4 weeks after the True Grit Epic race in St George where I had crashed and fractured the Transverse Processes of my L2-L3 vertebrae and had swelling around my sciatic nerve. The first week after my crash I tried to get a refund from the Pisgah Stage Race promoter but it was beyond the refund deadline so after getting declined I was going to eat the entire registration. I cancelled my flight and car rental sure I would not be in shape to ride the 5 extremely technical stages of Pisgah. Two weeks after the crash I started with a couple of short rides on the trainer and realized it was helping to loosen up my back and legs. Physical therapy was helping but getting back on the bike started helping even more. With Park City still covered in snow I remembered that Pisgah was more than just a race and was also an opportunity to ride new trails in a new place with a lot of like-minded new people. Three trainer rides and a week of going up and down the Olympic Park paved road across from my house and I was headed to Pisgah. Rather than treat this as a race I approached it like a training camp with the primary goal being to end the week with no new injuries and a solid deposit in the fitness bank.
Only one of the five stages at Pisgah did not include any hike-a-bike, even for the pros. This rainforest is loaded with the most technical trails I’ve ridden on a mountain bike. The stages were loaded with very steep climbs and descents covered in wet rocks and roots. I rode the first 4 stages very conservatively pedaling the climbs at a solid tempo pace and descending cautiously taking minimal risk. After those first 4 days I was happy to find myself in the top 10 of the Masters 40-49 group that started with 47 participants.
Going into stage 5 I was sitting in 6th place a little over 5 minutes from 5th place. The morning of Stage 5 I was feeling better than I had all week and decided I would “race” this stage and see if I could snag a podium spot or move myself up in the GC to come out of the week with some positive motivation to ride into the season.
Stage 5 was billed to be the fastest pace stage of the week with no hike-a-bike sections so it fared well for my current cautious riding. The stage was 27 miles with 2300 ft of elevation gain with most of the ascending coming from 2 gravel/double track climbs. The start of the race headed right into the first gravel climb and after some jockeying I found myself in the 3rd of 3 groups that had formed. I noticed that 3-4 riders from my category (Masters 40-49) were in the 2nd group about a quarter mile up the climb. This group included my category’s race leader and also containing the current 40-45 Marathon XC champion. This is when I decided to push off the front of the group I was in and close the gap to the 2nd group. My legs were feeling good so I was able to close this gap over the next 1-2 minutes and joined the 2nd group that did include 4 riders from my category and 2 from Open class. I took in some nutrition and decided to push the front of this group to liven things up. Not knowing the course, I didn’t realize that we were about to head into a tighter trail covered in roots that had 1-2 preferred lines so being at the front worked out to be a good move as I was able to pick my lines and push the pace. This ended up dropping one of the Masters riders and one of the Open riders off the back and now our group was down to 5 including 3 from my category, 1 Open rider and me.
We then crested the first summit and dropped into a tight, rooty descent where I allowed the other riders to go ahead so I could ride cautiously down the descent that was still pretty wet and sloppy from the previous day’s rain storm. I made it down without any incidents but lost 20-30 seconds to the group so started to push my pace again just as I came around a corner to find one of the riders had crashed and was now off the side of the course. He was the Masters Marathon XC national champ who also happened to be a local and the winner of the last 3 Pisgah stage races for the Masters division. I checked that he was OK and continued to push on. In this process, I was joined by the 2 guys that we dropped on the last climb and the 3 of us worked back up to the rest of the group just as we passed the aid station and headed into the second long climb. This climb hurt! It was about a 30-minute climb up a gravel road that turned to double track for the second half of the climb. Our group was now 6 riders including 2 open class, 3 from my category and me. If I could hang on and beat out one of the Masters men I would make the podium. Several of us traded blows on the front trying to wiggle any of the riders loose but everyone was pushing hard and the group stayed mostly intact. I checked the segment on Strava after the ride and my estimated power for the 30-minute climb was about 320 watts which I was happy to see because I was getting some of my pre-crash power back and could sustain it for 30 minutes.
Having no expectations going into this week I was satisfied at the top of the last climb to be with the leading group from my category. This is when I decided to let the other riders enter the final descent (also the Enduro segment for the day) ahead of me so I could ride the descent conservatively and finish the week in one piece. At this point I had already accepted 4th place for the day content with potentially moving up 1 spot in the GC. Half way down the descent I found one of the 3 riders from my category on the side of the trail fixing a flat tire. Wait, this means I could get onto the podium if I finished without letting anyone else catch me. I pushed a little harder and finished the descent smoothly, maintaining my position. I crossed the line 3rd on the day in the Master Men’s category and later found out that I had put 7-8 minutes into the guy previously sitting in 5th place so I had moved into 5th place on the GC.
It was great to end the week on a high note and leave Pisgah with no injuries or mechanicals. I had a great time experiencing new trails, in a new place meeting some great new people. I also enjoyed relaxing in the evenings with Ken and his wife. Pisgah was an awesome experience and Ken and I are already talking about going back next year.
The Pisgah Stage Race has some of the best mountain bike trails in the USA, and this five-day, fully supported endurance event delivers an unmatched sampler platter of some of the best singletrack in the country. The stage race course includes the Eastern United States’ most rugged trails. Located in a rain forest, the rooty and rocky trails are often times slick and treacherous. I entered the 60+ class, packed up my bike and flew to Charlotte and drove to Brevard, NC.
Sharing the VRBO rental with me was my wife Suzy and teammate Dan Mahlum (40-49 class). Suzy hiked each day while Dan “did training camp” and I “raced”. For those of you that may not know, Dan had crashed hard at a race in early March and was off the bike for several weeks to heal up. He was using this event to get back to racing form. He was still very fast though
During the pre-race meeting I ran into a friend Lennie Moon from Alabama. I raced with Lennie at the 2015 and 2016 Breck Epic. He had come with several friends from Alabama including one he immediately “warned” me about: his Alabama friend Hartwick Gregg. Hartwick was the returning 60+ Pisgah stage race champ and 2015 cyclocross national champion for his age group. When I later was introduced to Hartwick his reaction let me know that Lennie had similarly “warned” him about me. It was going to be a fun week!
Stage 1 - 21 miles, 4042 ft elevation gain: The days prior to the event it rained frequently so the trails were wet and slick in many spots. My plan was to hold back on this stage to save energy for the rest of the week. I tend to run down like an old battery during stage races! For me this translated to a target heart rate of about 120 BPM. At the start of the stage I looked for Hartwick and latched onto his wheel as we started up the shallow grade on a long fire road. Within a couple minutes I decided I could handle a higher pace so I set off to find another wheel. I would not see Hartwick again for the remainder of the stage. As the road continued uphill and steepened, I settled in with a group of about 5. When we turned onto the first singletrack, the grade got very steep and the roots were wet and plentiful. The combination caused many riders that were in front of me to get off and hike but I kept pedaling. I managed to pass about a dozen racers on this section but my heartrate was up to 150 BPM (this is about my max). So much for holding back! After cresting the top, I entered the first big downhill of the race, a technical featured enduro section. I was a bit apprehensive since I was not yet familiar with the Pisgah technical terrain, but I managed to hold my position and ride all the technical bits. I was glad I brought my down country Epic with 120 mm fork, beefed up rear rim, and dropper post.
I started the long climb up the mountain again as my anxiety was starting to build for Farlow Gap, the most infamous trail of the race. If you’re curious you can Google it! I was joined on the long climb by Jacob and Lennie from Alabama. Jacob and Lennie had been down Farlow Gap twice and this fact gave me comfort. I stayed with my newly acquired trail guides and got my heartrate in check as we climbed at tempo pace uphill and crested the top. Noisy course workers in wacky outfits signaled the top of Farlow Gap. It was rocky, wet, rooty, (did I say rocky) and getting steeper as the “trail” descended the mountain. I was loving my dropper post at this point. Jacob eventually stopped and climbed down a nasty drop. What Jacob did, I did. We alternated riding and “climbing down” or “climbing up”, or tip toeing across streams for the next 10 minutes. We had dropped Lennie. Following Jacob I gained confidence and then confidence turned to impatience. I hiked past Jacob then pedaled/hiked/pedaled away from him.
Twenty more minutes of navigating Farlow and I was back riding fast on fire road and sane singletrack to the finish. I won the stage in my category with a time of 2 hours 40 minutes, about 15 minutes ahead of Hartwick. Presented with a blue leader jersey to wear on stage 2 was icing on the cake.
Stage 2 - 29 miles, 3878 ft elevation gain: It was the only sunny day of the week, but still wet from overnight rains. There was a 4 mile neutral start on asphalt as the 175 rider peloton worked its way through town. Racing started on a wet fire road uphill which soon turned to a forested singletrack. While descending on the singletrack my front tire slipped out from under me on a snotty wooden water bar placed diagonally across the trail. Remarkably, this would be my only crash of the week. I was up quickly with only a scraped knee. After my slow-ish start on the fire road climb, I slowly began to pass other riders on the singletrack. I allowed my heartrate to drift up to 135 BPM for brief periods. As the race progressed I slowed down to keep a more sustainable heartrate and as a result got passed a few times. I felt fatigued as the stage reached the final 2 mile descent of Black Mountain, a rugged and pounding upper portion followed by a rather flowy bottom section. I finished first in category with a time of 3 hours 2 minutes, about 25 minutes ahead of Hartwick in second.
Stage 3 – 29.5 miles, 5800 ft elevation gain: This was considered the queen stage and after my mini swoon midrace of stage 2, I was concerned how my body would respond. This was the driest of the days, with no overnight rain. I employed more discipline in my pacing and kept my heartrate around the 120 BPM target consistently all day. I was happy with my pacing. The route had 4 big climbs and 1 smaller climb with two nice long technical downhills. I found myself riding much of the stage with Lennie and another Alabama guy, Michael. The three of us managed to pass the current 40-45 National Marathon champ and last year’s masters men race winner (wearing a prominent stars and stripes jersey). I chatted briefly with him as we pedaled past and he explained that he had gone out too hard and was cramping. I would see him mid race again the next day as he had decided to save himself for a run at a stage 5 win. The last technical downhill was the same as the prior day’s final descent. It felt great to bomb it with a confidence that came from familiarity! I finished the stage first in category with a time of 3 hours 52 minutes, about 42 minutes ahead of Hartwick in second.
Dan and I had a post-race routine each day: eat at the finish line (free Clif recovery shake, two or three scones left over from free breakfast offered by the race promoter, a banana, a few orange slices, and a few potato chips), drive our muddy bikes and muddy selves to the VRBO rental where I would take a shower (complete with my muddy riding clothes to wash out the mud spots everywhere). We would then do laundry, wash the bike, prep the bike for the next day, eat a late lunch out in town, check our Strava while using our leg compression devices (aka leg squeezers), and go to the Brevard Music Center (race headquarters) for post-race dinner, awards, race video viewing, and get intel on the next day’s stage. After stage 3 and 4, I managed to get in a massage too prior to dinner.
Stage 4 – 21 rain shorted miles, 3000 ft elevation gain: The day started with a rainy warmup but once the race started at 9 am, the rain pretty much stayed away. The trails were very greasy in spots however. So greasy that the promoter decided to shorten the course for “safety reasons”. The revised course consisted of about 8 miles of mostly flat gravel road, followed by a 2500 foot climb up Laurel Mountain which is the highest point of the race at 5000 feet elevation. After the big climb came (you guessed it) a pounding rock and root infested descent of 2 miles and 2000 feet elevation called Pilot Rock. This descent contained two infamous sections that can be seen on many a YouTube video…..and we were going to ride it in the wet! The start was rather faster than I was comfortable, resulting in me yo-yoing off the back of the large lead group (a peloton of about 50 riders). But I managed to stay up with this group to the foot of the Laurel Mountain, at which time I climbed for the next hour or so at a comfortable pace near my target heart rate. As the elevation increased, the trail got wetter and greasier. Many times I found myself hiking the bike and sometimes almost scaling up boulders with my bike. It was foggy and misty. Then out of the mist came those noisy course workers in wacky outfits signaling the start of the Pilot Rock downhill. The Pilot Rock “trail” was cut onto the side of a steep and wooded mountain and contained a plethora of rocky switchbacks. In between the switchbacks were many roots and rocky steps caused by erosion between the roots. My bike, mind, and body took a relentless pounding as we navigated trail hazard after trail hazard. At one point I pulled over to let a faster guy go by me only to see him go over the bars about 30 seconds later. After that he stayed behind me! With little warning I came across the rocky switchback I had seen in the YouTube videos and although it was wet, I cleaned it without drama. But due to the relentless pounding, my hands were starting to suffer and arm pump was setting. Maybe ESI Super Duper Extra Chunk grips would have helped! It was at this time that I rode into the second infamous section: an extended rock garden with lots of large wheel catching rocks waiting to send someone like me OTB. I managed to ride all but a short section, which (I like to think wisely) walked. I completed the descent in one piece and headed into the final 4 mile stretch of wet and relatively flat gravel road. I found myself working in a small drafting group containing Alabama Mike, the Open Women leader, on one other from the 40+ category. The four of us took turns pulling at high speed all the way to the finish line. I finished first in category with a time of 2 hours 17 minutes, about 19 minutes ahead of Hartwick in second.
Every day a new race video was created by the race staff. Here is a sample from stage 4 that will give you an idea of the awesome trails used for the race. Stage 4 video - Pilot Rock.
Stage 5 –27 miles, 2300 ft elevation gain: On a dry day, all racers did a neutral group ride of about 3 miles through town to the starting line. The course consisted of two 900 foot gravel road/double track climbs each followed by fun descents. No hike-a-bike on this day! No teeth rattling descents either; just mostly fun and flowy stuff with only a few miles of roots to navigate. With a big lead in cumulative time and not a lot of energy left in my tank, I kept the pace moderate. Several riders from other categories that I was able to beat on the previous stages stayed ahead of me all day including Lenny, Jacob, and Michael from Alabama. However I managed to keep Hartwick a comfortable 14 minutes behind me by the time we finished the stage, giving me another stage win and the cumulative 60+ category race win.
SAGEBRUSH safari 2019
The UCC/JW Floors mountain bike team participated in a resurrected old classic mountain bike race called the Sagebrush Safari. The course starts out with a 6.5 mile climb up Morena Stokes Valley Rd to 4 Corners, then up Los Pinos Rd, just near the top of Los Pinos Mountain (elevation 4600ft). No time to catch your breath before heading into the Spur Meadows downhill. This trail contained a high speed descent and was littered with sharp rocks that claimed many a mountain bike tire (the trail became littered with racers repairing flat tires) After roughly 4 miles of descending the course intersects Morena Stokes Valley Rd to climb back again to 4 Corners. From there racers jump onto Wrangler Trail. This is the trail that makes the Sagebrush Safari as epic as it is. It contains many types of terrain including loose dirt, hard pack, massive rock slabs, rock gardens, punchy climbs, and flowy descents. After about 4 miles the Wrangler Trail dumps onto Skye Valley Rd for a brief screamingly fast descent to Bronco Flats Trail and then to a new section called Ranger Trail. Ranger is a technical, yet rideable climb, up to the next section. The next section is one of the most fun fire-roads you’ll experience, Gunslinger Trail. After which you reach Morena Stokes Valley Rd and for the final time make your way back up to 4 corners. Once you reach 4 corners the course leads to Kernan Cycle trail. Kernan is the final (fast, “whoopy”, and at times technical) descent back down to the paved road. Once on the paved road the final 2 are flat and fast to the finish line.
Team results summary is as follows:
40+ Expert men – 3rd place Jeff Jacobson, 5th place Pascal Bonaventure, 9th place Larry Tanzo, 10th place Steve Boyd, 12th place Greg Twitty, and 13th place Bryan Taylor out of 19 participants
55+ Open – 1st place Randy Liechty, 3rd place Jack Kairy, 4th place Ken Winston, 9th place Dennis Mudd out of 19 participants
Race report Sagebrush Safari Category 55+ by Randy Liechty:
I was excited about this race as Sagebrush was my first bicycle race 25 years ago! I started that race in the beginner class age 35-44. I didn't know what I was getting myself into. During the race I thought to myself, this is really hard so I stopped and asked the race marshal if I was going the right direction (some things never change) and confessed that I was a beginner! He laughed at me and said "just keep going". I did finish, and placed 35th out of 66 in my class! That day I realized that Sagebrush is a real mountain bike race! The modern version is 27 miles long with 3600 feet of climbing.
When I arrived at the race on Saturday it was awesome to warm up with all my great teammates. This is a great group who ride and train together on the Wednesday night ride. We are fortunate to have amazing support from UC Cyclery and all of our sponsors.
Ken Winston, Jack Kairy, Dennis Mudd, and I were staged in the 55 group near the rear. At the start of the race all categories left at the same time so the three of us move up through the large peloton to our other teammates near the front. I worked my way up to Greg Twitty and Bryan Taylor in the 40+ group at the start of the long climb so I could try and stay up with them on the decent. They are the best on the descents and as a nervous old guy, I am more confident following them down then guiding myself solo on the fast descent! Greg pulled away because there was a rider between Bryan and me. We never saw Greg again. This whole time I was waiting for Ken to fly by me because he is such a great descender. I found out after I finished that Ken had flatted at the start of the downhill (along with many other racers). I continued the race riding behind Bryan to the finish line. I am grateful to have Bryan leading me through the technical descents!
I am looking forward to many more races with a great team!
The UCC/JW Floors mountain bike team participated in round 3 of the California Mountain Bike series. This is the premier race series in southern California with 7 races and 3 different venues. This round was a UCI sponsored event attended by elite level pros including the woman’s XC world champion Kate Courtney and took place at Vail Lake in Temecula on March 23. It was a beautiful day and the 6 mile course with 700 ft of climbing had hero dirt. Cross country races consisted of 3 or 4 laps depending on age group and endurance races consisted of 6 or 7 laps.
The team made their presence known, winning 4 first places, a 2nd, and three 3rd places. In total, 14 from our team competed. Team results summary is as follows:
45-49 Cat 1 Cross Country men – 1st place Larry Tanzo, 3rd place Bryan Taylor, 4th place Pepe Velez
50-54 Cat 1 Cross Country men – 3rd place Jeff Jacobson, 4th place Steve Boyd, 10th place Greg Twitty
55-59 Cat 1 Cross Country men – 7th place Jack Kairy
60-64 Cat 1 Cross Country men – 1st place Ken Winston, 2nd place Randy Liechty, 3rd place Michael Hines
Open Endurance men – 4th place Chuy Topete
40-49 Endurance men – 1st place Pascal Bonaventure and 4th place Simon Planken
40+ Endurance women – 1st place Rhonda Geiszler
I had a little less than a week to get the derailleur repaired for Vail. Found out it was just a very loose clutch adjustment screw. Went to test it on Tuesday and found out the hard way that the cassette had cracked. My chain dropped off my cassette into my wheel and took out spokes, the pulley cage and bent the derailleur severely!
Thanks to John and Dave at UC Cyclery I was able to gather parts for an almost all new drivetrain and have the MTB ready for Saturday’s race just in time. So I lined up at the start at Vail and was nervous, yet excited to test the new drivetrain. After all this time away from MTB racing I didn’t recognize a lot of racers and it’s hard to figure out ”who is who”. Pepe Velez and Brian Taylor helped me out by pointing out some strong guys and possible race winners. I was able to pre run a lap and knew we started on a fire road that turned into a tight single track. After we started I went hard to get to the front to enter the single track in the top 5. Unfortunately they started my age group (45-49) with the age 40-44 Cat 1’s, so I had no clue who I was with on the first section of the single track. After about half a lap in I started asking guys I was with, what age group they were. I REALLY think the leg markings need to be brought back. I’ll donate the Sharpies!! Only one rider in the group was in my age group. I believe his name is Gilles Brouchard from the Tasco team. He was setting a fierce tempo and we were already creating a gap from some of the group we were in. I noticed one rider was working very hard to stay close to us and realized it was a rider that Pepe had pointed out and referred to as a possible winner.
I figured this early in the race that I would settle in for a while and see if this gap we had would last. After lap 1 and 1/3 the way into lap 2 I decided to try a little attack. It worked! Between feeling good and having traffic to help block anybody from following my wheel I was able to pull away for good. But because of the start with two separate age groups I started wondering if a rider in my class had snuck away with the front group. So I started to push even harder after shedding the last group I was in.
I felt really good on the 4th lap and was fortunate enough to get in a small group with LEGEND Tinker Juarez and ride strong to the finish for the W! I had an absolute blast and I definitely have the “racing bug” again!
True Grit MTB on March 9, 2019
The UCC/JW Floors mountain bike team traveled to Saint George, Utah to make their presence known out west at the opening race of the National Ultra Endurance Series. This 900 rider event is the season opener for the National Ultra Endurance Series for both the 100 mile and 50 mile categories and often sets the pace for the series leaders. Our team competed in the 50 mile categories. True Grit Epic is a long, tough and technical race through some of the most beautiful county in the West. Some portions of the course are so technical that course workers are standing by to attend to injured riders!
UCC/JW Floors team member results were as follows:
40-49 men – Pascal Bonaventure 2nd, Justin Rivers 4th, Bryan Taylor 8th, Dan Mahlum 10th, and Paul Todd 14th out of a massive 168 participants in class!
50-59 men – Jeff Jacobson 2nd, Greg Twitty 9th out of 78 participants in class
60+ men – Ken Winston 1st out of 16 participants in class
Race report from Pascal Bonaventure – Category Men 40-49
Great road trip and race with my teammates. 168 starters for the 40-49 class. I did not get a chance to pre-ride the course and the plan was to follow Dan’s lines through the technical sections of the waterfall section and Zen trail. We executed the plan. I lost track of our placing as we passed the slowest riders from the previous wave of open men and women. About 2 hours into the race Dan was pacing our small group of 5 riders. I asked him to let me take a pull. I felt fresh and decided to up the pace to drop our competition. When I looked back after the climb I was by myself with a solid gap. I kept the pace high in Zen mode for the remaining 25 miles and ended up in 2nd place behind Cameron Brenneman from Colorado. Teammate Justin had an amazing result as well. Unfortunately Dan crashed hard while passing in a very high speed section, breaking several vertebrae. But he managed to soldier on and finish the race!
Thank you to Ken for driving and coordinating everything.
Race report from Justin Rivers - Category Men 40-49
It was great to be at the start of the race with teammates - Dan, Paul, Ken, Pascal, Greg and JJ. My category, the men's 40-49 category, had the highest turn out for the True Grit 50 mile Epic Race. The temperature was cold before the race; I wasn't sure how many layers to put on and went with just the arm warmers. That was the right choice.
We left the historic downtown of Santa Clara. It was a paved start - about a half mile, before turning left onto a dirt fire road for the first climb. I found myself near the front of the group before entering a dirt wash that had puddles and some slick spots. Feeling energetic at that point I came out of that section still near the front of the group. Knowing that was not where I should be, I backed off a bit and found a steady pace.
As we made our way down the first fire road, I knew that a climb was coming. It had rained the night before and there was water running down the trail. I passed a few riders on the way up and found a good rhythm.
On a very technical decent down the infamous “waterfall”, I took the line to the right side of the trail with no issues.
While going up the Zen trail, I was able to make passes by taking a more exposed line. Eventually I caught up to Dan and Pascal. The three of us entered the aid station about the same time. I could not find my drop bag but had enough water in my Camel Bak to keep going. As we got to the top, and began the descent into Bear Claw Poppy, I tried to conserve some energy knowing there was a long climb ahead of me. At the end of that climb, there was another decent. That downhill was a very fast single track, and that is where I came across Dan, who had crashed. I stopped to make sure he was okay, and he told me to continue on. (Bad ass Dan finished the race with a broken back.)
From there I climbed the switchbacks and was able to pass by some of the riders who had passed me on Bear Claw Poppy. Now in more technical terrain I was feeling stronger. I made some good line choices through Barrel Roll. I stopped for a rider who asked me for a CO2 cartridge. Knowing the end was close at this point, I was feeling very motivated to finish strong.
There was one more single track descent and a final short climb. We then turned down the fire road, and headed back toward the main street in Santa Clara. I could see a rider about 1000 feet ahead of me which gave me motivation for a sprint finish. I overtook him just before the line.
It was an amazing trail. I really enjoyed the race.
Ken, JJ, and Greg navigating Barrel Roll trail during race course pre-ride sessions. Easy peazy!
UCC/JW Floors Race Report for California Mountain Bike Series Round #1 at Vail Lake
The UCC/JW Floors mountain bike team participated in round 1 of the California Mountain Bike series. This is the premier race series in southern California with 7 races and 5 different venues. Two of the rounds are UCI sponsored events attended by elite level pros. Round 1 was held at Vail Lake in Temecula on March 2. There was quite a bit of rain coming down in the hours before the event with a forecast for rain throughout the day. This particular venue has a history of being wet and damaging to equipment, but many from the UCC/JW Floors team adopted the approach that if you don’t show up you can’t win! Fortunately for all racers, the rain stopped about two hours before the event and didn’t start up again until the awards were presented.
We competed on a shortened course of about 5.5 miles with about 600 ft of elevation gain per lap. The team was again a dominant force, winning 3 first places, 3 2nd places, and 3 3rd places. In total, 12 from our team competed. Team results summary is as follows:
45-49 Cat 1 Cross Country men – 1st place Pepe Velez and 3rd place Bryan Taylor
50-54 Cat 1 Cross Country men – 1st place Jeff Jacobson and 2nd place Steve Boyd
55-59 Cat 1 Cross Country men – 3th place Jack Kairy
60-64 Cat 1 Cross Country men – 1st place Ken Winston and 2nd place Randy Liechty
40-49 Endurance men – 2nd place Pascal Bonaventure and 3rd place Justin Rivers
19-39 Cat 1 Cross Country women – 4th place Monica Taylor
Here is an individual race report from Steve Boyd (Cat 1, 50-54 Cross Country):
I lined up at the Vail Lake CA Cup race with Jeff Jacobson (JJ) and 6 others in our class. The race started at a pretty quick pace, and JJ and I settled into 3rd and 4th place letting a couple guys set the pace. We had three 5.5 mile laps to go (shortened due to rain and course conditions), so I wanted to sit back and see what pace would be sustained. By about 1/3rd the way through the 1st lap we had picked up an endurance racer and dropped everyone else in our class. We all held our positions for the 1st full lap, which was going at a fast pace, but not a redline pace. JJ and I talked strategy to let these guys lead as long as they would, but then attack on the 3rd lap for sure. At the start of the 2nd lap and just before a sustained climb I moved into 2nd place as that guy was slowing. Then the leader pulled off and looked back wanting someone else to lead. JJ and I then pulled around, and I think a little unconsciously, turned it up a notch. We traded positions pulling up the 1st climb and by the top it was just us two and our endurance friend. We had a 15 second gap on 3rd place now. As we rounded into the final lap our endurance friend went to the front and really turned the screws picking up the pace. This helped gap the field behind more but put me a little over the top. I was a little cooked the last 1/3rd of the lap so JJ pulled a gap on me, and my concern then became not being caught by anyone. I knew where Alex Teno of Stonehaus Trek was behind, so I kept my pace high to finish in 2nd with a 26 second gap to 3rd. JJ took a great win!
Here is a race report from Ken Winston (Cat 1 60-64 Cross Country)
Going into this race I figured my toughest competition would be from my own teammate Randy Liechty. We have raced together several times over the years and frankly, he almost always schools me, especially at the XC distance. At the start I decided to try to get out front to set a fast pace and see if Randy and I could get away. Well, that is what happened. I found myself leading up the tunnel of love shallow climb which is about 6 minutes long, so a nice VO2 max kind of effort. The soil was spongy from all the rain and a noticeable drag on the bike. With me came my teammate Randy and Robert Gelfand from Team Redlands. The rest of the field was dropped. It was a difficult effort into a moderate headwind but I felt good. I gained confidence when I backed off slightly but no one came around me. As we approached the top of the climb I accelerated and entered the best part of the course – the Tunnel of Love. This part of the course is a 2 and a half minute winding and undulating singletrack descent with several blind corners that can be taken very fast if you know the lines. After racing a few 12 hour events on this course, I can do the descent blindfolded. Near the top I wiggled past a rider from another class and pulled away from Randy and Robert, not to see them again. So the rest of my race was about putting my head down and setting consistent lap times. At the end I felt good enough to negative split the last lap. Randy finished in second. It was an honor to stand next to Randy on the podium!
A note about Randy’s equipment choice today. When the rain forecast went south, he brought his old hardtail instead of risking damage to his S-works Epic. The old hardtail happened to have downhill tires with deep tread blocks and he did not have time to change them out. Remember the spongy soil I mentioned? Those tires were a huge drag on his bike in those conditions, not to mention the heavy weight. Amazing he could pull off a podium finish considering!
Dirty Thirty 2018
2018 Dirty 30 Race Report by Jeff Jacobson (aka JJ)
Dec 8 was the Quick n’ Dirty 30, an annual MTB race in Sycamore Canyon between Poway and Santee. The course has a couple of long fire road climbs and some fun technical single track. The Dirty 30 was one of my first races a couple of years ago. It started to rain during that race and the fire roads quickly turned to sticky mud that packed up my tires and drive train, which threw my chain, wrapping it around my rear derailleur and tearing it off, forcing a DNF. With that fond memory, I expected Saturday’s event to be cancelled due the heavy rains two days prior. Fortunately, the rangers had graded the roads earlier this year and brought in new sandy rain tolerant dirt. The conditions turned out to be phenomenal: a crisp, clear sunny morning with tacky hero dirt. Only one section of road had to be removed from the course due to mud.
I registered in the men’s open class and lined up with a group of almost 40 racers in my category, which had a mix of rider levels. At the start of our wave, a group of three riders jumped to the front and I pulled in behind them. I haven’t been seriously training since Sept, so I planned to not go out too hard and keep enough in the tank for a solid final lap. I knew the pace was too intense to keep up, but I didn’t want to fall behind the lead group. Fortunately, about half way through the first lap the pace slowed. After a bit, I went to front of the group on the fire road to take a turn pulling. The course turned up a trail climb and I looked back to find that I had gapped the lead group a bit and was sitting solo in first place. My heart rate was around where I wanted it to be, so I kept up my pace, mixing in with some of the riders from the wave ahead of ours. A rider I was following on the technical descent went over the bars on a steep rock drop and I was barely able to avoid running over him, but made sure he was OK before hammering on.
On lap two, there is a section of road that does a u-turn and doubles back so you can see how far ahead of other riders you are. I had a minute or more lead on the three riders I started out with, but there were now a few new riders between us. I questioned whether they were in our same category or were just some fast riders from the two-lap categories. Not taking any chances, I kept up my pace.
On the third lap I tried keep my momentum on some big rollers by coming into the climbs hot and sprinting out the saddle, but shifted too many gears at once and my chain slipped under the pressure and the jolt sent my calves cramping. Not wanting to mess up my lead, I settled into a steady pace on the climbs to ride through the cramps. Although my pace slowed by a minute on the final lap, I was able to pass several riders from other categories that the punchy course had taken its toll on and finished in first. Turns out that second place was a young rider that planned to hang back and try to attack on the last lap for the win, but fortunately I had just enough to hang on and keep the lead. Looking at his Strava profile, he’s been training over 300 miles a week, so I feel pretty good about my result. It was also nice to race my new Specialized S-Works Epic with Fox stepcast 120 fork, such a confidence inspiring machine.
2018 Dirty 30 Race Report by Ken Winston
Ten days ago I was resigned to being finished with my race season. But then my fellow 55+ teammates Jack and Randy said they planned to race the Dirty 30, so I didn’t want to be left out! I remembered that last year Pete Tholl (the Greg Fenton of mountain biking) battled it out with Johnny Omara for the win and the course was identical this year. So I used Strava and the posted 2017 results to set segment and lap time goals. After pre-riding 4 days before the event, my segment times were close but still slower than last year’s winners. I usually find another gear on race day so I was confident.
On race morning I learned that neither of last year’s winners had entered the 55+ open class (Johnny was recovering from surgery and Pete moved to the 40+ Expert class). This was both a relief and a disappointment. I still had teammates Jack Kairy and Randy Liechty to make it a tough race. JJ also warned me of Todd Brown, a rider for Pedal Industries.
The 55+ Open class started 30 seconds behind a large Sport class. After the start I immediately sprinted to the front. Within what felt like about one minute I came up on the back of the Sport Class racers. The back markers were all cooperative as I announced again and again and again “on your left”. Occasionally I heard a bit of distress happening behind me as riders struggled to get past each other without mishap. Jack turned out to be one of those riders as he had to dismount and run up the steep climb covered with Sport riders. For 20 minutes or so I continued to pick off riders that had started in prior waves and managed to avoid letting anyone pass me. I was keeping a challenging pace and high heart rate but I thought I could maintain the pace for the expected race duration of about 80 minutes. Up the first big climb and down the technical descent of Martha’s Grove, my race continued to go swimmingly, passing riders occasionally and no one passing me. At the bottom of the Cardiac Hill climb to complete lap 1 of 2, I saw Jack about 30 seconds behind me and no others from my class. Jack is a strong climber so I pushed hard up Cardiac to hold my lead.
The final lap continued to go well until I approached the bottom of the Martha’s Grove technical descent, when I came up to the rear wheel of Todd Brown. I passed him on the descent. But very soon afterward I was beginning the Cardiac hill climb to the finish when Todd was on my wheel. After a quick Q & A with him (as much as one can talk on the final climb of a race), he confirmed he was racing in my class. I suspected that he mistakenly started the race in a prior wave since I was certain no one had passed me and no one from our starting wave got in front of me. But in the case I was wrong, I had a race on my hands. The finish line was 5 minutes away!
Adrenaline allowed me to increase the pressure on the pedals as I settled into a rhythm at the bottom of Cardiac Hill. With about 2 minutes to go to reach the top of the climb and the finish line, I finally looked over my shoulder to see that Todd had dropped off my wheel. Relieved, I cruised into the win with a 25 second margin. Jack finished shortly afterward in 3rd and Randy finished 5th.
After analyzing my Garmin data, I managed to beat my goal lap times, which were faster than the winning times from 2017. Mission accomplished!
JJ and I both won a 6 pack of Stone IPA. JJ donated his to Jack!
Bryan Taylor finished 4th in the ultra-fast 40+ Expert class, losing to legends Tinker Juarez and Ned Overand. But Bryan’s two kids Alastair and Mhairi won the two cycling kits and a Bluetooth speaker in the raffle!
That wraps up a great season for the UCC/JW Floors mountain bike team. I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas!
8 hours of Temecula DUO
The race format was the usual relay lap format, but this lap was dominated by the dreaded Dam Climb at the start. Each lap was 12 miles including about 1300 foot of elevation – most of which was realized in the initial Dam Climb. The course then was a mix of flowy downhill singletrack and meandering double track.
Lap one saw Simon taking point. The start was initially controlled by motor quad, then as soon as the climb started, the peloton was off. The crowd was cautious initially…knowing this hard and long climbing loop needed management. But then there’s always that one guy….!! After about 150 feet a young guy broke. This cascaded down the peloton and it was then LT and beyond all the way up! This climb separated the men from the boys….fast (in that the boys were all faster!!). The younger riders were super strong on this lap – impressive to see how good the next generation will be. Simon kept in the leading group, and on the descents caught up a majority of the leaders. By the middle of the lap, Simon was in 5th place overall, with a sizeable gap to next group.
Lap two saw Ken take the baton, and give charge to the leaders. At the end of the lap is a fast steep switchback climb, followed by a fast decent, in front of the relay exchange stage. Kens descending skills came into their own and Ken gained two places late on that section. Ken came in smiling after his initial lap…”I made up 2 places for you!” was the exchange. Then Simon was off for his second lap.
The Dam Climb seems steeper every lap. And the subsequent descents all too quick! But it was nice to have the space between us and the chasing pack to enjoy the singletrack. By 2 pm, the temp was nearly 90 ⁰F. The air was so dry that the race became somewhat one of attrition. The solo riders were tiring and many only put in 6 hours…cramps were setting in and the Dam climb was getting ever steeper. Simon had a 34 chainring which at this point he now wishes he swapped out for a 32. Most of his climb was spent in the 50t rear with a cursing mantra quietly being muttered…
By Lap 6, the team had more than a 15 minute lead. Admittedly, the competition was light but with Ken’s consistency and Simon’s charging lead, the duo managed 8 laps – one lap higher than other teams. Ken and Simon got a deserved win for the team on a day that was very hot, dry and with a lap that was one of the longest we have seen in this venue.