Team Swift Race Reports - April 2014
Team Swift Race Reports
Having a great time visiting our sponsors at Sea Otter!!!
Race Reports for:
1. Sea Otter Classic (Circuit Race, Road Race and XC)
2. Copperopolis Road Race—NCNCA Junior Districts
3. Wente Vineyards (Road Race & Criterium)
4. Norcal MTB Race #4 (Norcal Conference Championships)
5. Norcal MTB Race #5 (State Championships)
6. Napa Valley Dirt Classic
April Top Results:
1st Place Copperopolis Road Race Juniors 15-16 Ben Cook
2nd Place Wente Criterium Juniors 15-16 Ben Cook
2nd Place Wente Criterium Juniors 17-18 Jonathan Gunning
3rd Place Napa Valley Dirt Classic Category 2/Jr Luke Lamperti
4th Place Napa Valley Dirt Classic Category 2/Jr Gianni Lamperti
4th Place Copperopolis Road Race Juniors 17-18 Ryan Clarke
4th Place Copperopolis Road Race Junior W. 17-18 Emily Abraham
4th Place Wente Road Race Juniors 15-16 Miles Daly
4th Place NorCal Race #4 Varsity Eli Kranefuss
4th Place NorCal Race #4 Freshman Ben Cook
6th Place NorCal Race #4 Varsity Griffin Wigert
6th Place Sea Otter XC MTB Juniors 13-14 Gianni Lamperti
7th Place Napa Valley Dirt Classic Category 2/Jr Isaiah Chass
9th Place Sea Otter XC MTB Juniors 13-14 Luke Lamperti
10th Place Sea Otter Road Race Juniors 15-16 Ben Cook
11th Place Wente Criterium Senior Category 3 Ben Cook
11th Place Sea Otter XC MTB Juniors 13-14 Isaiah Chass
14th Place Sea Otter Circuit Race Juniors 15-16 Ben Cook
14th Place Copperopolis Road Race Juniors 15-16 Ethan Frankel
14th Place Sea Otter Circuit Race Juniors 15-16 Ben Cook
14th Place NorCal Race #5-States Varsity Eli Kranefuss
16th Place Sea Otter Circuit Race Juniors 15-16 Luke Lamperti
17th Place NorCal Race #5-States Varsity Griffin Wigert
25th Place Sea Otter Circuit Race Juniors 15-16 Gianni Lamperti
23rd Place NorCal MTB Race #4 Sophomore Boys D1 Ethan Frankel
28th Place Sea Otter Circuit Race Juniors 17-18 Ryan Clarke
38th Place Wente Road Race Senior Category 3 Ryan Clarke
Rider Race Reports
1. Sea Otter Classic 4/10-13/14 Monterey
Circuit Race Reports:
15, cat 3
14th Place Sea Otter Classic Circuit Race Juniors 15-16
"Woah..." I heard my dad's voice linger on as we scanned the miles of festival tents ahead of us. We have always wanted to go to Sea Otter, and now, we've finally arrived. I had 3 hours to the start of the circuit race, so my dad and I went down to packet pickup, and began to get ready for my race. I had a 1:30pm start time, which should be perfect for racing, except for the fact that it was already hot out at 11am.
I headed back to the car and got changed. Soon enough, I threw my hat on and jumped on the trainer. I figured with a 75 minute race, I'd better warm-up well. I ended up doing some z3, followed by a 1 minute pyramid, with an extra painful 1'30" jump after the 1'. I figured that would open me up enough for the race.
Spinning over to the course, another junior came up along my side. "You in 17-18's?" He asked. "No, 15-16's." We chatted some more about our upcoming race, and I mentioned that it was my first time at Sea Otter. "Ah, well, it's really a race about positioning. You need to be near the front at that climb, or else when the leaders drill it over the top of the climb, you'll be stuck chasing. That's where gaps go." I took this into consideration, and stopped over by coach. She smiled and gave me a wave.
"There you are!" She said. Staging was close to the start, so I just spun around on the open track with coach for a bit and talked about the race. We talked about the climb, and how to position for it.
I took my place at the start line, popped a Clif Shot, and focused at the wide open road ahead of me. "15 seconds riders! 15 seconds until your start!" I heard the announcer yell over the loudspeaker. Placing my hands in the drops, I got ready to take off for a fast start. But there was no countdown. So I stayed crouched and ready for the longest, quietest 15 seconds of my life. Finally, the whistle blew, and we were off. Riders swarmed from all sides, and I found myself a wheel near the front. But suddenly, we slowed. The race carried out extremely casually for the next lap. We all looked around confused. Where's the attacks? Why aren't we in pain yet? "Hi mom!" I heard a rider joke to someone on the sideline. The whole field laughed, what was happening here? Riders joked about our "Sunday group ride", and how slow the pace was. Finally, Specialized made a move on the backstretch of the course, and we were suddenly racing. The pace carried on quickly through the turns to round out our second lap. Coming into the climb, I sat at about 10th or so, and shifted into the little ring. We flew up the steep section, but it was on the 7-8% "flat" afterwards, where riders really drilled it at the front. I suffered terribly to hang in, and ended up making it over the top of the climb with the leaders. "Next time, be at the front." I told myself. So next time, I was at the front! Drop to the little ring, suffer, repeat. This was going to be an extremely tough race. I soon realized that the backstretch was where the real action happened. Specialized made another attack and the field was soon to chase. But a counter came, and I was right on it. I soon found myself off the front by just a second or two with a Specialized rider. I took my pull through, and flicked my elbow, but he sat up. What? I was confused. We were reeled in before I could figure out what happened. He attacked, and then sat up. I decided I wanted to figure this out. Coming over the top of the climb, a group of 5 of us got a small gap, and when it was Specialized turn to pull, he sat up. Soon enough, his teammates had chased us down. There was no time to figure out team tactics now, I had to carry on with the race.
For the next few laps, I carried on with the field, but coming into the climb with 4 to go, I couldn't hang in. I pushed and fought as hard as I could, but I couldn't make the selection. I found myself in a group of 5, and we carried on in pace line until the finish. We all sprinted in to the line, and came in somewhat disappointed that we couldn't make the lead group.
I chatted with coach after the race, and we discussed what went right, and what went wrong. "You were the very last one to miss that group! I know you can do it Ben, but you’re going to have to go way beyond your limits in tomorrow's road race." I was instantly ready for tomorrow's race. Later that night, I talked with my dad, and we decided that after talking plans and tactics, that tomorrow would be best just to race my race, and give it my all. I’m fairly confident in my ability to road race, so I decided to follow what race strategy I did know, and leave everything on the road.
In the end, I had a great race, lots of fun at the festival, and an overall awesome day. I went beyond my limits of what I considered pain, and learned more about racing. I went back to the hotel after dinner, and got ready for tomorrow's race.
28th Place Sea Otter Classic Circuit Race Juniors 17-18
I really enjoy racing on the track and I was looking forward to it even more this year. I chose my Cosmic Carbone SLRs because I'm heavier than a lot of the skinny climber kids so if I had to close a gap, the aero benefit and my weight would take care of that on downhill. I knew that I wasn't going to be the strongest climber there so I broke the race down. I made it my goal to go over the top of the climb with the group every lap and be at the front again by the bottom. Basically I made every lap a race in itself so that I wasn't thinking about how long I had to race. I just focused on one lap at a time. There were lots of attacks and it was a pretty aggressive race. I knew the race would slow down after around halfway so I kept hanging in there. With three laps left someone put in a huge effort near the top of the climb and I told my legs to go, but there wasn't anything left in the tank. I tried to catch back on but they were gone so I pushed hard to the line.
25th Place Sea Otter Circuit Race Juniors 15-16
Sea Otter is my favorite event all year. This is the first year I have done the Circuit Race and it was super fun. At the start line I was excited but a little bit nervous about staying with the field because of all the older fast kids. For the first three laps it was not very fast but every lap on the climb to the top of the corkscrew somebody would attack and it would be a sprint to the top of the hill and then it would slow up again once we hit the bottom of the corkscrew. It was a little bit scary going through the double apex corner because people would cut in and the swerve back out after seeing that they had to turn again. On the fourth lap I got popped on the hill after a big attack. I was with a group of three until two to go where somebody passed us going faster and I jumped on. We worked together till the finish where he sprinted and beat me. It was a super fun race and I for sure want to race next year.
Luke Lamperti 12 yrs old, Cat 4
16th Place Sea Otter Classic Circuit Race Juniors 15-16
The morning of the Circuit Race I had been staying in a RV at Sea Otter for two days, but slept great, which I was happy about. I had been waiting to do this for a while because my race was at 1:30 in the afternoon. After getting ready, I went out on the road to do a warm-up with my brother and teammate Ryan. Then getting on course, we rode a lap around the track. We went to staging and got ready to go after the 17/18's started 1 minute in front of us. When we started, nobody went fast or made any attacks until the third lap when we started cat and mouse. We never went hard again until somebody made another attack and then the field would bridge back up and it would happen again and again until Norcal Specialized racing made an attack. Somebody countered that and got off the front and it stuck and then they did it again and again until 3 were off the front. In the meantime of all this happening, I dropped off on one of the big attacks by Specialized. I rode with a smaller group and finished. I am happy to have been able to race and am happy with how I did.
Road Race Reports:
10th Place Sea Otter Road Race Juniors 15-16
Sea Otter- This was it. The final race in my 3 month rise since the start of the season. Starting off by getting my name out at my first national level 15-16’s race at Valley of the Sun. Then, learning what pain really means at San Dimas. And finally, with all that I’ve learned throughout the season, I end here at Sea Otter.
I’ve learned my lesson about sitting in hotels all day before a big race, so I decided to keep active today. I got a good night’s sleep, and headed out for a morning spin along the coast. Monterey is a beautiful place, so I got to start off my day with a little serenity. Next, I headed to the festival with my dad. We walked around tents, tried out fat bikes, a big lunch before finally heading back to the car at about 3. There, I got kitted up, threw my hat on, and jumped on the trainer. Wanting a good warm-up, I decided with some z3, followed by a 1 minute pyramid. The race was only about an hour and half long, so opening up would be crucial. At about 4:15, I headed down for the start line. I rolled up next to coach, and since I was early, she told me to get some more spinning in. So I cruised up the neutral start climb, and went up and down a few times. At about 4:45, I met with coach again. I did my roll-out, and waited in staging. Coach came up at my side one final time. “Ok Ben, you were SO close to making that final split yesterday. I know you can do it today. You’ve got to race to be at the front before you can plan your moves. These guys recover fast, but so do you. Every climb is going to be extremely hard, so be ready. Just hang in with ‘em! You know what to do!” Coach gave me one last smile and a pat on the back, and I headed over to the start line. Looking around, I found a familiar rider starting next to me. Noticing his National Champion bands around his sleeves, I chatted some with Gage Hecht before the race. We joked around some about the late start time, and the fact that his teammate didn’t have arm warmers (a choice I was very happy with). Finally, the ref got us ready to start. Uttering the famous words “The race will start on the whistle.” he gave an ok to the other officials. The moto engine starts, the area gets quiet, and we all get in our drops, the whistle blows. Off we go! We set a nice pace up the neutral climb, and begin the descent. Steadily, we stay behind the moto, and all continue our chatting. The ref was keeping us a pretty slow pace, so I talked with some friends and sneaked around the field to find a good position for the climb. Finally, the ref signals the left hand turn. Oh boy. The first section of the climb is neutral, so after swooshing around the left hander, I sat and waited in the second row. The ref’s engine revved and he accelerated down the road. The race is on. A limitless rider is soon to attack, followed by Specialized setting a fast pace at the front. I stayed at about 6-7 wheels back. With field on the smaller side with 45 riders, it was going to be important to be at the front to make every split. We crested the first climb, and took off down the road.
Coming into the feed zone climb, riders attacked from left and right. I was dying to hang in. I soon realized that I was still at the front, and we were all suffering here. I was in good shape, and took off after the leaders, making the first selection. Coming onto the rollers before the descent, I noticed the pace picking up, and we reached the fast descent to end off our first lap. “1000 METERS UNTIL SHARP LEFT TURN.” I picked out from a sign on the side of the road. 10th wheel. Ok, I’ve got some time before the turn to move u- “500 METERS UNTIL SHARP LEFT TURN.” Reads the next sign. I guess I’d better get up there! Hitting around 45mph, we slowed, and swooped through the left hander, and I carried some speed and made it up to around 8th wheel. Specialized was setting a monster pace. This is the most important part of the race, just like coach was telling me. It was time to give it everything. Riders were falling off behind me, and Specialized was only speeding up at the front. I got out of the saddle and gave it everything. I sat back down, and pushed some more to rejoin the group. It wasn’t enough. So I did it again. I set out on the most painful climb of my life. Yes. Of all time. I powered in the saddle. It wasn’t enough. I got out of the saddle. It wasn’t enough. I was still just slipping off the back group. I was not going to just let this race slip away from me like this. So I gave it everything. I had never gone this hard before. I gave it literally everything I had in me. Riders were strung all over the road, and the next wheel was only a second ahead of me. I had done it! I rejoined and flew down the descent as fast as I could. Four of us were now just a few seconds off the group. Time to give it all again. We drilled the flats for the next minute or so and finally made contact with the leaders, still pushing the pace. “Wow. That was awesome!” Was all I could think. I felt myself smiling. I had done it! That’s what it takes to make the split, and I was now up with leaders. The feed zone was just a corner ahead, and I was still smiling from the last climb. Time to do it again! A BYRDS rider attacked, and I was right there to jump on him. Sitting in about 5th wheel, an attack came from a rider just behind me. I was soon to follow, and we flew around the leaders. Gaining a small gap, we took off down the road towards the descent. But we never had more than six or seven seconds, and got reeled back on the descent.
Coming into the climb to start our final lap, I moved into 4th wheel. Perfect. A Specialized rider attacked, and gained a small gap on us. We were really moving. I stayed on my buddy, Evan’s wheel up the climb. I know him as a reliable wheel to follow, and he’s strong enough to hang with the leaders. Evan and I stayed in about 4th and 5th wheel, and suffered up the climb. Coming into the feed zone climb, another Specialized rider made a move, but there was no way to chase. The field accelerated. I decided that I might as well help, if we do have a shot at catching the break. So I jumped in rotation. Believe me, it was not easy, and I soon realized that I wasn’t going to spend my energy at the front if it meant getting dropped. Those two were gone. I hid back in the field, and stayed there over the rollers. More riders dropped off. There were about 15 of us coming over the final roller. We slowed and spread across the road. I found myself in the front row, and felt another smile creep onto my face. That was it! I had made every split in the race! Now it was just time to make it over the final long roller. I looked at the shadow of the field in front of me. It had been a great race so far. I realized I was letting my guard down, and got my mind back into the race. I took another look around. No attacks? Really? But I spoke too soon. Bam! Sean McElroy flew by the field. There’s the move! I headed down the descent on second wheel. Sean was still in our sights, and we flew into the final corner leading up to the climb. I saw the 5k sign as the road pitched up. Sweet. Attacks came from left and right, and I followed as many as possible. I gave it everything like I had done before, but it wasn’t enough this time. So I tried and tried again, but I just couldn’t stick with the wheel in front of me. The entire group was stretched a few seconds apart from one another. Suddenly, Evan came around my left side. We worked in rotation up the climb for a while, and caught a few riders. I saw the 1k sign, and made the mistake of attacking him to try to get an advantage, and possibly snatch a podium spot. I swept passed a few more guys, but the road just kept heading upwards. Evan was right on my wheel, and another few riders passed around our side. This is definitely the most strung out, sluggish, and painful finish I have been a part of. Finally, 200 meters to go. Evan and I sprinted across the line, but he got a small gap on me, and snatched 9th. I came in exhausted, yet extremely satisfied. “Nice job Ben!”
“That was amazing Ben!” I heard, to my surprise, from a few different riders and coaches of other teams. Wow! That adds to a great day! I rolled over next to Coach Laura. We talked on how the race went, and I eventually got spinning back to the car.
Today had been a test of everything I had learned from this season, and I passed. The race may not have been very tactical, but I had to race smart to stay in there, and the race situation even got confusing at some points. Where to ride in the field, when to move up, where to be before the climb, all of the things I have learned throughout the year. And of course, suffering. That was another key element, and thanks to coach’s support, I pushed myself much farther than I thought possible, and made every split. It had been an awesome day, and an amazing first half to the season. I loaded up the car, and drove home with a smile across my face.
One of the reasons I love Sea Otter is because it's one of the few times we get to visit all of our sponsors. I honestly believe that we have some of the best sponsors out there because we aren't just a team of kids to them. They actually want our input on their product and are genuinely interested in our development. It is really a good feeling knowing that there are people out there that care and want to help you grow as a rider. I want to thank every one of our sponsors for believing in our program and continuing to help us grow. After our sponsor visits, Mr. and Mrs. Lamperti cooked this amazing dinner and we all hung-out for a while and relaxed. It was nice especially after the Circuit Race and walking around to have some down time and just hang-out with my younger teammates which doesn't happen often.
While I had a lot of fun visiting everyone after the Circuit Race, it took a lot of energy and with the Road Race the next day I wasn't in top shape. The road course is killer with lots of big rollers and a fierce wind nearly the whole time. The first time we hit the hill the race exploded and I chased super hard over the top to try and catch a group, but the race took off so instead of chasing solo, I eased off and let a few others catch me. We worked somewhat well together. A few people would surge pretty hard when they pulled through, but they clearly were not trying to drop us. It was just annoying because right after I would pull off, I'd have to work super hard again because someone would surge. We worked together until the finishing climb when two guys attacked. I tried to follow but I was pretty gassed so I rode my own pace all the way to the line.
Cross Country Reports:
6th Place Sea Otter XC MTBJuniors 13-14
The Sea Otter cross country MTB course is super fast and fun. I was really excited for the race. To do my warm up I spun to the top of the corkscrew twice, then did a warm-up pyramid which also took two runs. I then went to the startline and staged as I waited for my start. I was towards the back of the group at the start line and was not as aggressive to get to the front line. The front sprinted as hard as they could but I stayed towards the back because I knew it would slow up once we went around the first corner. It did slow up and I moved up to somewhere around tenth wheel. When we got to the dirt I moved up to about fifth wheel. I moved up then and then stayed around second wheel until the first singletrack downhill where I made a mistake and I dropped back to about 8th. I then got stuck in traffic. When we got to the fire road climb I went as hard as I could and caught a group of two in front of me and passed them for sixth. I got caught by one of the kids that I had passed earlier on. I kept my pace and caught him towards the top of the climb and passed him back. I stayed in the same place until the finish. Overall I am happy with my finish and hope to come back next year and podium.
9th Place Sea Otter XC MTB Juniors 13-14
The morning of the race I knew I had to eat a little bit early because my race was at 8:40 AM and I had to warm up and get my bike ready. After all of that was done, I rode over to get warmed up and did a couple of laps around the circuit track. Then it was time to get into staging. When the race started, I got into a good position on the track and then tried to get a good spot on the first fire road just before we hit single track where I was in a good group with 4 people on the flats. When we hit the single track, we had to work our way through traffic because they started the Clydesdale's in front of us. After getting through most of them I went hard to make up time that I lost trying to pass people. From there I rode hard until the finish. I am glad to get ninth and happy with how I rode.
11th Place Sea Otter XC MTBJuniors 13-14
I was super excited to race the Sea Otter Classic Cross Country for my second time. A few days before my race someone told us that the course was different than last year’s XC. Due to racing the Downhill I was not able to pre-ride the whole course, but luckily I was able to pre-ride the last few miles, which was important. On race day I got up early so that I could eat a good breakfast, which is key for me. Then, I got on my kit and rode to the start, which was on Laguna Seca, and did some pyramids so I would be ready for the fast start. When it came time for me to line up, I got in position, ate a Clif Shot, and waited for the start. When the announcer said, “Go” everybody sprinted to get into position. We rode around the track and then turned onto a road, which lead us into the first dirt. When we got to the dirt another attack was put down. I was quick to sprint, knowing that once the lead group was gone, it was gone. After multiple attacks were made the pack started to split up a little. I was still up towards the front at this point. When Jake Yackle came by me, I got on his wheel. We were now on an asphalt section that leads us to the next dirt. Jake and I were pace lining with a few other guys to catch the next riders. When we got to the single track I was still in a group with about 5 riders. Along the single track riders from other categories slowed us up, but we made it by them and kept racing. When we got out of the single track there was a long asphalt downhill. I got behind another rider and got tucked to save energy. At this point there were only 2 of us in this group. On the next climb I passed a few more riders. Now, it was just me trying to catch the next riders. When I got to the roller section of the course I could start to see my teammate Luke ahead, so I sprinted to catch up to him. I got on his wheel and rode with him through single track. I then got popped off his wheel and couldn’t make up the time. Coming into the last climb a rider passed me. I tried to jump on his wheel but just couldn’t put out the power. Thinking that the climb was longer from pre-riding it, I got to the top and thought, “This is the top, I thought it was way longer.” I then started sprinting all out knowing that it was about 1 minute to the finish. I came down the last single track and was onto the final straight. I sprinted as hard as I could to the finish. After my race I found out that I got 11th out of 50. I was very happy with my result because I placed a lot better than last year.
2. Copperopolis Road Race 4/19/14 Milton
15 years old, Cat 3
1st Place Copperopolis Road Race Juniors 15-16
Copperopolis is one of my favorite races. Hilly, fast, demanding, and extremely bumpy. This year, Copperopolis was the junior district championships, so there would be a good field size. I did this race with the juniors last year, and ended having a long, lonely ride to 5th place. This year I was determined to get the jersey.
We lined up at the start with about 20 riders, and Coach Laura came over for a final pre-race chat. "It takes a strong rider to win today, race smart, and I'm sure you'll do great. You know what to do by now." I thanked her and focused on the official standing in front of us. After a quick course layout, the whistle blew and we were off. In the field today there was about 5 Limitless Cycling riders, and another 3 or 4 strong guys. We started off pretty slowly, and I got myself situated close to the front. Coach was telling me how important it was to stay on top of my nutrition today, so I made sure to eat and drink a lot.
Coming up the first long climb, the pace was pretty decent, and I was starting to work up a sweat. This opening climb would be good to help stretch out my legs for sure.
We rolled over the top of the first climb, and the pace mellowed. I ate a Clif Shot, and looked around. About 10 of us left. I chatted with my friend from Limitless, Kyle Fiori. We sat at the front calmly, and kept a pretty easy pace. We soon pulled off, when I got a tap on the shoulder. It was another Limitless rider, Jordan Ruffino. He told me that his team was willing to work to get him and I off the front, so that we didn't have to deal with the rest of the guys in the field. Hitting the rollers on the backstretch, the pace picked up some. We decided to go on the final climb of the lap. I positioned Jordan on my wheel, and launched my attack. We were starting to stretch out the group, when I heard the motor-ref come up on my left side. "Slow! Neutral! We've got a field coming through, gentleman!" Jordan came up on my side, and we glanced over at each other. "Next climb" I heard him whisper. We crawled over the final hill with the moto watching us carefully, and I decided to eat another Shot. Eventually, we took off down the rough descent. I did my best just to hold a straight line, and keep safe down the hill. Once at the bottom, the pace resumed. Not too fast, not too slow. A few attacks came, but were soon drawn back. We began to crawl up the next hill. I told Kyle to set us a fast pace, and he did just so. The climb began to roll, and I had Jordan right on my wheel. I put my hand down, letting him know that we weren't going to go yet. I waited as we headed up the rollers of the climb, and finally when I knew that the road was steep enough and steady enough, I patted my hip, letting Jordan know we were going to go. I attacked straight up the hill, and charged out of the saddle. A few riders hung on, so Jordan and I took turns drilling it at the front. We came around a corner, and the road steepened. Jordan was starting to breath harder at this point. "Ease up some." He said, but it was all or nothing. I had to get these guys off my wheel, so I gave it my all. I knew Jordan was strong enough to join me shortly after my acceleration, as I wouldn't be able to solo the rest of the race. I got out of the saddle and attacked up the hill. I rode as hard as I could until the top, popped a gel, and continued to time trial through the flats.
I carried on at a steady pace, trying to hold my gap from the field. I looked back and saw two small dots following, and the field still was out of sight. I carried on until the left hander on the back side of the course, where I looked back to see Jordan attack the other rider he was with. He drilled hard, caught up to me, and the two of us began to work in rotation. We carried on at a hard pace, until we were way out of sight from the field and any chasers. Coming over a particularly rough section of road, I placed my hands on the tops. Jordan flicked his elbow, and placed his hands on the tops as well. "Paris Roubaix!" He said with a laugh. We soon realized that if we could joke around off the front with less than 10k to go, we were in the clear. We kept up a steady pace, and rotated through to the final climb. It was time for me to plan my win. Coming into the final climb, I pulled off to place Jordan at the front. He lead into the climb, and right as it kicked up, I made my move. I gave it everything I had, and looked back to see Jordan slipping away behind me. I kept up the pace, and drilled over the top of the climb. At this point, I had the gap I needed. The flats before the descent are always the toughest part, I had a small gap, but I wouldn't let it close. I pushed as hard as I could, and Jordan coming close at times, but over the final roller I popped him. I shifted into the 14, and went down the hill. Of course, a 14t cog won't get you anywhere on a descent like this, so I tucked over the rough roads, and spun whenever I could. I happened to have about 8-9kg on Jordan, so this may have aided in increasing my lead. Coming into the last couple kilometers, I looked back. Jordan was nowhere in sight. Keeping up a steady pace, I flew past the 1k sign, and took off towards the finish. I took one last look back, and danced across the line for the win! Rolling onto the shoulder of the road, I stopped to catch my breath. A few minutes later, Coach Laura came up at my side. "How'd it go!?" She asked with excitement.
"I got it!" She gave me a hug, and we began to discuss how the race went. In the end, I had a great day, and learned a little bit more about road racing. This time, I learned how important it is to stay on top of your nutrition, especially over the rough roads of the course. This really helped me in today's race, as I felt fresh the whole time. I rolled back to the car with coach and the team, and got ready for podium.
4th Place Copperopolis Road Race Junior Wm. 15-18
The month of April didn't exactly pan out like I had hoped it would. Just a few days before Sea Otter I caught a nasty cold and wasn't able to race. By the time Copperopolis came around about a week later, I was just starting to feel better. This race is far from one of my favorites, the uphill section is beautiful and the rest of the course is great at least until the descent comes. It's a sketchy descent with horrible pavement, and I still need lots of improvement on how to handle descending. I raced junior women so there were only a total of four of us in the race. The first lap we all took at a pretty easy pace, about a mile into the race we began a rotating pace line and continued that for the rest of the race. When the top of the climb just before the descent came, I braced myself for a bumpy ride down. Like I said, I'm not very good at descending so the other three girls got away from me. As soon as the major part of the descent was over I forced myself to catch them. Once we passed where the race had started, I caught them. Then we began the second lap which ended up being almost an exact repeat of lap one. We stayed together and continued a rotating pace line until the final climb before the descent. Half way through the climb one of the girls jumped and another one followed. It was a steep uphill but I tried to push myself to stay with them. They made a break from me and the fourth girl. I think the reason the other two girls dropped me was partially from me being discouraged about the descent which was coming up. I was starting to drop the fourth girl on climb but she caught me on the descent. I was disappointed after this race but I know that May will be a much better month of racing.
18 years old, Cat 3 4th Place Copperopolis Road Race Juniors 17-18
This was my second time racing here after missing last year’s edition. It was my first time back since I broke my collarbone here 2 years ago, but I knew that I would have a better race this time around. I knew I had to cover all the moves and be extremely conservative when I could be. I ended up off the front of our small group with a guy from Specialized but it looked like we were going I get caught so I sat up. The chase stopped after I was in the field so I just sat in and tried to hitch a ride up to him with one of the guys trying to bridge up. Nothing happened and I didn't want to chase and be countered so I stayed put. In the second lap someone attacked and I got gapped off right before the descent. We had just been passed by another field so I descended through the field and caught the guys from my race. Right before the end of the third lap we caught the guys who were off the front. In the climb a guy attacked and I covered it but didn't have the legs to go with him. I had to play some cat and mouse with two guys from the same team going into the last kilometer and couldn't come around one of them in the sprint.
Racing Age 16, Category 4
14th Place Copperopolis Road Race Juniors 15-16
The day was warm, although it was only 8 am. I received my number and registered. I warmed up on the road, getting in two pyramids and a lot of spinning. After rollout, the race was about to start. The whistle blew and the race started. My favorite part about Copperopolis is, certainly not the horribly paved roads, but rather the climb where I knew I could sit in and stick to the front. After two or three miles of a mild pace, the road pitched up and we started the climb. I was right in the middle of the peloton and was feeling pretty good. The pace was quick, but not hard to keep up with. The road flattened out occasionally, and I sat in to catch my breath.
Two-thirds of the ways up the hill, the road steepened. I shifted down into my lowest gear to prepare, and suddenly found myself standing over my crank, frantically resetting my chain. My rear wheel had hit a nasty pothole as I had shifted and I was stuck in the middle of the road, already more than 20 seconds behind. I desperately hopped onto my saddle and pumped as hard as I could to get over the 100 meter steep section. While climbing, I gained around ten seconds on the rest of the riders, leaving me at least 20 seconds back. By the top of the hill, I was about 20 seconds behind, but now came the flats and descents, where I had little hope of gaining ground on a field of 15 or so riders. I blew myself up trying to catch them, and after a few miles of chasing, I burned out.
The road was rough, and there was a handful of rolling hills. Ten or twelve miles into the first loop, I again dropped my chain after shifting non-tactically. On one of the steeper rollers, I shifted down once again, and dropped my chain as it pitched upwards. Again I lost another 15-20 seconds. I slowed down and tried to get my energy back, but I was trying in vain to catch them. Three-fourths of the way through the lap, A Fremont rider caught up to me and we rode together, but we still couldn’t catch the field. The descent was gnarly; the road was super rough, but I tried to accelerate and gain what little ground I possibly could. At the bottom, I caught up with another rider who had flatted, but was just starting to get onto his bike. He set a hard, steady pace and allowed me to sit in on his wheel for a few miles. However, I dropped back as the road flattened out, and pushed up the hill.
The last lap, the Fremont rider and I rode together and chatted a bit. On the last climb, I broke ahead and got to the top, wanting to fly downhill and try to get a larger gap. However, he was a slightly faster at descending and caught me. I rode in front for another kilometer, trying to get him to take a pull. With 200 meters to go, he finally broke ahead but I couldn’t stick on his wheel, leaving me in 14th. Overall, it was a fun (ish) race and I look forward to racing it again next year, this time with a chain guard!
3. Wente Vineyards Criterium 4/27/14 Livermore
2nd Place Wente Vineyards Criterium Juniors 15-16
Coming into Wente Criterium I was pretty excited. I'm much more of a road racer, but I always love a good spring crit. Criteriums are always fun- announcers, prizes, and fast paced racing. Today I would be racing the juniors and the 3's. There were only 6 total juniors, four 15-16's, two 17-18's, so the race didn't start off too fast. I was racing with my teammate Jonathan, and there were two other teams, each with two riders. Once the race was off, attacks came from a few different racers, I chased wheels and covered. I decided it was time for me to go, I went to the back of our group, and launched down the road. I looked back to see a rider chasing my wheel. I kept up the pace, but not too fast that he couldn't catch on. One other joined, and we took off down the road. Jonathan was waiting back in the other group, as he blocked for me when I attacked. The 3 of us were working well together, when my rear wheel started to feel squishy. I rode on it for a few laps, and eventually I felt that I was washing out in corners, and felt that I needed a wheel. I stopped by the pit for a quick change, but I soon realized that I didn't have a free lap- as we had less than 5 laps to go, so I was chasing. I jumped back in the race and caught up with the 2nd group. I rotated pulls with Jonathan and one other rider, but the leaders were too far ahead.
"You ever done a lead out, Jonathan?" I asked and he nodded his head no. "Hold a steadily increasing pace, and start your sprint early out of the final corner." I told him. He did just that, and I beat the other rider to the line, and so did Jonathan!
In the end, I learned that a leak may not be worth a wheel change if you are in the break. Also, I learned that there aren't free laps with 5 to go! So now that I've got my first wheel change out of the way, I have a sense of what it feels like.
In the end, this race was more of a learning experience for me. I fixed the wheel, and spun around in preparation for the 3's race, which was up next.
11th Place Wente Vineyards Criterium Senior Category 3
Wente Vineyards Criterium is a flat, and open loop. Seems pretty ordinary, right? Well, today would be no ordinary crit. I lined up at the start, ready for a good race. I looked to my left to see another rider checking his skewers. "You all good?" I asked. "Fine, thanks. I just had a bad experience last race." I noticed the left over road rash in his legs and arms, and took the hint. We chatted some more- turns out that he just needs 3 more points to get to get cat 2. I figured that he's not a bad rider to go with.
The official blew the whistle, and we were off. Attacks came left and right from the gun. It was going to be an exciting race. I heard the swooshing of deep dish wheels come from the right, and accelerate around my side. I stayed put, I had to learn to be more selective in when I chase. Within a lap, our attacker was back in the field. I had played it right, and my decision not to chase was a good one. The race carried out like this for a while. I stayed about 15 riders down to keep a good eye on the race unfolding in front of me.
Suddenly, with no warning, the rider ahead of me jumped, and thrashed out of the saddle. I knew this was the one, with no hesitation, I followed suit. We flew by the front if the field at incredible speed, and took off down the road. Within 500 meters, we were working in rotation and gaining a gap. Our gap increased as we hit 9 laps to go. But the wind was increasing as well. Every time we came through the finishing straight, the wind tugged us back just a little bit farther. But it didn't matter; we were going to make this one stick. Just one rider and I, we kept up a blistering pace. I was digging as hard as I could on the pulls, keeping it steady, and so was my break mate. "Prime lap! Prime lap!" I heard over the loud speaker. I didn't mind losing a prime; the overall win was more worth it. We came through the finishing straight, and my break mate got out of the saddle, but the wind was so strong that he could barely fight it. I came through to take my next pull, and gave it a little extra dig to grab the prime.
With 6 laps to go, we were still away. I dug deep into the headwind while passing the announcers stand. "Team Swift rider Ben Cook giving it a good go off the front there!" I heard. Awesome! I could pick out my name from the announcers words every time I passed the officials stand.
With 4 to go, another rider had bridged, so I jumped on his wheel, but my break mate couldn't make it. A new break mate now, time to see what we can do. I gave it my best go, but at 2 to go, we had been reeled in. At this point, my best bet was to try to make it in the sprint. I had an entirely different race to focus on now. Today's race had really been about the smartest rider, not the strongest. I already had an edge on that level, as I had been part of the main break, but now I had to position for the sprint.
At 1 to go, I was fighting to get to the front. By the final turn at 500 meters to go, I was in about 15th. I sprinted in my hardest, and came in for 11th.
"Nice air time!" I heard from my dad as I rolled in. I came in to the parking lot and chatted with my break mate. "Good go, man!" We shook hands. I chatted for a bit longer, and eventually packed up with car and headed home with a smile on my face.
In the end, I had a fun day, and learned more on how to read a race, and go with the right moves. I had a great race in the end, now it's just time for my move to stick!
38th Place Wente Road Race Senior Category 3
I knew this would be a hard race because if all the climbing but I had a positive attitude starting the race which I knew would help me. The first lap, a few guys got off the front but it was a windy day and I knew they wouldn't stay away. I got confused in how many laps we had and I killed myself for good position thinking the race was about to end because we were crossing the finish line for the fourth time but we really crossed it five times so I actually had another lap to go. I had thrown my bottle before the climb thinking we were finishing so I didn't have anything to drink the last lap which played a factor. It was cold out too and I didn't wear leg warmers which would have helped. With 500m or so left the road pitched up and someone attacked which cracked me and at that point I couldn't make any ground up so I just finished the last little bit strong.
4. NorCal MTB Race #4- Boggs Mtn Championships 4/5/14 Cobb
4th Place NorCal Race #4 Varsity
After the last race was cancelled due to excess rain, I was looking forward to a strong race. I headed up to Boggs to pre-ride the course on Friday afternoon. Unfortunately, it had been raining pretty hard and one of the climbs had become completely saturated. I was dreading that climb in the race, knowing that it was very hard to make it up. Luckily, the next morning they announced a small change in the course in order to cut out the muddy climb. After a few pyramids and a couple shot blocks, I headed over to staging. Levi Leipheimer counted down and sent us off. I had a great start and was in 4th place. On the main climb of the course, I passed some people and found myself in a breakaway in 2nd place. I then got caught on the 3rd lap and worked together with some racers, pushing me into a solid 4th place. For this race, everything clicked and I had one of my best races this season, putting me in 4th place overall in the NorCal high school league!
6th Place NorCal Race #4 Varsity
I camped the night at Boggs Mountain State Forest with my dad. It was pouring rain and the temperatures were in the thirties. Fortunately, the Tam team had abandoned their EZ up, so we sat under it. I woke up at about 9, ate breakfast, and then sat around. I pre-rode the course, which started on a fire road and then had rolling singletrack. This was followed by a long climb and long descent. The course was about 4 miles long. I would do 5 laps. I warmed up on nearby fire road with a friend from the Annadel Team, doing pyramids. The race started at 1:20. I got a good start. The pack split on the fire road, and I chased the front part (about 10 riders). Coming around the first lap, I was in 10th, and I took a Clif Shot. I did this the next lap too. The third lap I took a bottle, but the 4th lap I also had a Clif Shot. On the 2nd lap I caught and passed two riders, and was able to see two more up the climb. I was caught by another rider on the 3rd lap, and together we worked up to catch the other two by the 4th lap. One of the riders, the previous JV state Champ from Drake, stayed up with us, forming a group of 3. On the last lap, I attacked at the bottom of the climb with a big sprint. Neither of the other two reacted, so I slowed but kept a hard pace. I finished 6th.
4th Place NorCal Race #4 Freshman Category
Coming into Boggs, it was all about fun for me. I showed up to the team campground that morning, and it was a solid 35 degrees out. It was cold, wet, and if I was to pre-ride the course, I would have to be leaving in the next 5 minutes. I stood there in my kit (shivering, might I add), contemplating the options I had to choose from. Hypothermia or a crash due to not knowing the course. I asked around.
"Do you think the pre-ride is worth it?" "That's up to you, buddy." Was always the answer. I finally asked our mtb team director, Julia Violich. "No way! Go change." Score. I changed into warm clothes and sat by the fire with my friends. I now had 3 hours to my start. Awesome!
The girls would be starting soon, so we all walked down to the start line to cheer them on. As it turns out, Redwood High would be singing the national anthem to start off the day of racing- again! So we warmed up our singing voices and gave it our best go. 20 voice-changing teenager boys singing in front of 1000 people. Just like it was last time! But singing the anthem to start off the races was always fun, and at the end, we were all smiling.
I headed back to the campground and got kitted up. I ate a Clif bar, and started warming up. I decided to do some z3, and a full 1 minute pyramid, as I had a longer race today. After a good warm-up, I went to staging. I was to be placed in the C row, or 5th row (5 riders per row) back. Due to road racing, I missed the first NorCal race. Since the NorCal series is a points series, I lost my call up for the next few races. But I didn't let it stress me out, and I lined up at the start with the others.
The course was favorable to me. It started on a fire road climb, and the single track was rooty and rocky. We started off, and I began to move up along the fire road climb. Once we hit the single track, I was in good position. I continued to pass riders, and make my way through a course that was brand new to me. I passed a Drake High rider, and we decided to work together. I would pace up the climbs, and he would pace the downhills. After rotating for some time, the course opened up onto another, steeper, longer, fire road climb. I ramped the pace up on the climb, and the rider couldn't hang in. I saw a teammate up the road, so I began to dig deeper. Once at the top of the climb, there was a technical single track section. Coming into a tight rock section, I decided to unclip, tap the rock with my right foot to keep upright, and continue on. I tested my plan over the confusing section ahead of me- after squirming my way through the rocks, and almost going down, I clipped back in and took off down the trail. "Not too bad!" I thought to myself. I came in for the 2nd of 3 laps. "Yea Ben!!" I heard from the sidelines, and looked over to see my buddy Jordan giving me a cheer. I clicked up a cog and took off through the trail. At this point, we were hitting the starting fire road climb again. The second lap was almost identical to the first- hammer the climbs, keep passing riders and gain time, and have little fun on the downhills. I did learn a thing or two about passing in a mountain bike race, however.
Whenever I pass a rider, I make it clear which side I'm passing on, and give a thank you when I can. Eventually, I started hearing some interesting responses. "Have a good race!" "Go get 'em man!" To my surprise, I was getting some encouragement here! So for the rest of the race, I always told riders to have a good race when passing, or being passed.
By the end of the 2nd lap, I was caught on the downhill by the same Drake High school rider. I rode with him for most of the 3rd lap, but when the final climb came, I dug deep and rode him off my wheel. I didn't know what place I was in, but I kept on cranking all the way until the finish line. I came across the line, and gave a high five to my teammate Teddy, who came in 2nd! I ended up in 4th place at the end of the race. Teddy and I gave another high five. That's the best I've ever done in a mountain bike race! Sweet! For the rest of the day, I hung out with the team, and gave a cheer to the varsity and JV riders starting next.
Before the podiums, I hung out with my teammates from Team Swift, Griffin and Eli. Griffin had place 6th in varsity, and Eli 4th! I was super happy that my teammates had done well, and that we all had a fun day. In the end, I had a lot of fun at Boggs, and was glad I got to spend so much time with friends, and have an awesome race.
23rd Place NorCal MTB Race #4 Sophomore Boys D1
It was chilly, sub-50 degrees; cold. I got to the venue around 8:30 to pre-ride the wet, muddy course. The course was fun, with some technical but was also a nice flowing course. I noticed a few nice ascents, where I could likely gain ground, but also some technical descents where I suspected I would lose a lot of time. The course was only 4.75 miles long, as they had cut out a very muddy section due to the overnight rains.
I relaxed a bit for an hour, and cheered on the girls’ race. Then I got a good, 35-minute warm-up in. With supposedly 10 minutes to the start of the race, I hopped off my trainer, shed my arm warmers and jacket, and rode to the staging area. We all waited for minutes on end, and finally we were called to the start after 15 minutes of waiting in the cold air with no layers. Three two one, the race was on without a warning.
The start was fast as usual, and I stayed up in the front as much as I could, around 20th place. Then another rider cut me off as he tried to avoid a mud puddle. He swerved right into me, so I slammed on the brakes and lost at least 5 places. The next climb, there was a line of 15 or so riders (I was around 10th), and we stuck together for a mile or so. However, as it got more technical, some of the riders in the middle dropped off, so I passed about three of them. And then I dropped my chain as I hit a large root, and those riders passed me again. The big hill came quickly, and I passed another couple of riders and took a few sips of water. I set a steady pace, because we were required to ride four laps instead of three. The descents were fast and not super technical, but again, later in the lap, I dropped my chain after clipping a pedal and hitting a rock. I took it slower, as I did not want to blow up during the first lap.
By the start of the second lap, I was riding solo. On the descents, I took the wet turns carefully and pounded my pedals on the climbs. On the big hill, I ate a few Shot Bloks and drank water, preparing for another two laps. I was conservative on the twisty descents and I lost a lot of time there. I started the third lap at a fast pace, trying to gain some time. However, my energy was slowly depleting, and I faded quickly. A few riders passed me as the trail widened, and my legs were screaming. On the climb, I fueled up more and my legs regained some strength. I pushed hard and took more risks on the descents. I came into the finish ready and excited for a fourth lap. My legs were feeling strong.
And I was pulled from the course; the race was taking too long for everyone to finish. I finished confused and a little frustrated that I had not gotten to finish the race I had believed I was to do. However, that only lasted a minute and I was glad to have experienced the Boggs course. I learned to keep my energy levels higher all of the time and to take more risks on the descents.
5. NorCal MTB Race #5- State Championships 4/11/14 Laguna Seca
14th Place NorCal Race #5-State Champs Varsity
Heading into states, I was pretty pumped. I knew it was going to be a hard race, but I was excited. I headed down to pre-ride the course, but I got there a little late and pre-ride was cancelled because of high winds. Luckily I felt like I knew the course pretty well having raced there before. The next morning, I did a pyramid and ate some Shot Bloks. I headed over to the starting line and got a good place near the front. Then, we were off. We had a really fast start. I was sitting in on the first climb, about 15-20 people back. About halfway into the 1st lap, there was a split, and I didn’t quite make it into the lead group. I got on the front of the chase group and we caught the tail end on the beginning of the second lap though. Then, on the first descent, my saddle slipped so it was about 15º nose up because my saddle clamp wasn’t quite tight enough. I stopped to fix it and was passed by a few people. This bummed me out a little, but I knew I would just have to try harder. On the 4th lap, after passing some people, I caught up to Griffin Wigert. We worked together, pushing the pace and making up ground. Finally, the finish came and I finished 14th. Overall, I was not stoked on this finish because of my slight mechanical. However, I still think it was a great race because I raced smart.
17th Place NorCal Race #5-State Champs Varsity
The race took place at Laguna Seca Raceway. I drove down the day before and stayed at my Grandma’s house in Morgan Hill. I drove to the raceway in the morning. The course started up a narrow road up a little hill, and then dove down to the finish area in a steep, wide descent. Then there was a short climb followed by a sandy, jumpy singletrack descent. This was followed by rollers, and then by a final climb with a steep section and a fire road section leading into the finish. The course was about 4 miles long, and I would do 5 laps.
I warmed up on the road and did pyramids on a nearby hill, starting at about 12:00pm. At 12:45 I lined up at about 30th position. The race started out well, although there were a few crashes coming into finish zone, which I predicted there would be. I passed as many people as I could and was able to work up to about 26th coming in my first lap. I took a Clif Shot in the feed zone. I was able to keep with a rider with a red jersey for most of the second lap. After that lap finished, I took another Clif Shot. I dropped the red rider on the descent, but he caught back up to me. On my 3rd lap I passed a lot of JV riders and some varsity riders on the descent. When I came around for my water bottle, I was in 16th. On the fourth lap, I lost the red rider, while being caught by Swiftie Teammate Eli Kranefuss. Although we were racing against each other, he pulled me up the hill, but I then lost his wheel. I took a Clif Shot for the feed. I caught Eli on the descent, and almost caught the former Norcal Leader Nathan Barnett. I was dropped on the last climb by Eli and Barnett, but I was able to come back and finished 2 seconds off of Barnett, who beat me by several minutes earlier in the season. I was very happy with my result.
6. Napa Valley Dirt Classic MTB 4/6/14 Angwin
3rd Place Napa Valley Dirt Classic Category 2/Jr
After completing my warm-up I got to staging and waited a little. 3,2,1 GO the race started and right away went up a paved hill. At the top, I was third going into the single track. Right away we were back on a fire road. I made my way back to second place. I was feeling good. Later on I got passed by three riders in my class knowing I had a tough climb out. I rode tempo up a lot of the other climbs. I then rode down what they call Sand Hill. Then, I hit the last climb out. Right when it started I saw two of the three riders. I rode up the climb pretty hard then progressed and passed both riders by midway. I went as hard as I could around the track to the finish and got third place. I am super happy with a good finish.
4th Place Napa Valley Dirt Classic Category 2/Jr
Napa Valley Dirt classic is always fun and challenging. As the whistle blew I did not get clipped in until we were almost to the singletrack. I was pretty far back going in, so I had to make it up on the first steep little hill that was not rideable and the flat and windy fireroad. I found a good pace and rode with it for a while until I hit more traffic. When we came to a sandy descent I followed somebody who took the inside and then they figured out that it was the bad line and tried to switch but messed up and crashed which caused me to crash over him. I got up with sand filled shoes and jumped back on my bike and kept riding down. About three more corners down I got caught in a rut and crashed again trying to get out. Then came the steep climb back out of the valley. It was loose so you had to stay seated in order to keep from slipping. Once you got over the top you had to do a section where it was like riding through a shallow pond. I got soaked, but I was pretty much done and was ready to take a shower to get off all the poison oak afterwards. I was happy and am excited for next year.
7th Place Napa Valley Dirt Classic Category 2/Jr
Last year I did this race and remembered it was very fun. I also remembered that there was a very steep climb out of the valley to the finish, and last year I had went out too hard, to make up time on this climb. Before my race I warmed up so that I would be ready for the uphill start. When the race started, I sprinted to the single track and was about 10th wheel back. I sprinted to what was called the ‘wall’, where everybody had to run up it. I rode with other guys throughout the race and when I got to the steep final climb, I was feeling a lot better than last year. I felt good on this climb and was passing a lot of people. When I got to the very top, I got on someone’s wheel and rode with them to the last flat fire road. As I got to the bottom of last downhill I sat down and started pushing hard. When we came into the single-track that put us onto the track, where we finished, there was a swamp of water. A lot of people were going down but I managed to stay up and got to the track. I sprinted around the track as hard as I could to finish. This was a really fun race and I can’t wait until next year!
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This Article Published May 24, 2014 For more information contact: