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2014 Strive Racing Team's Numbers: 
2014 Events: 52
2014 Wins: 55
2014 Podiums: 158
Hannah's Cat 1 Upgrade Points: 32 (Needs 35)
Rachel's Cat 1 Upgrade Points:  3 (Needs 35)
Moriah's Cat 2 Upgrade Points:  23 (Needs 30)
Sarah's Cat 2 Upgrade Points:  6 (Needs 30)  
Luke's Cat 4 Upgrade Points:  15 (Needs Experience)
Luke's Total Races: 70
 
October 4th, 2014 - The Pine Creek Challenge
Wow!  Wow!  Wow!  What an incredible Pine Creek Challenge to cap off an incredible season.  Last year, after receiving 15 RSVPs, we ended up with 23 riders.  Thus, this year, when we received 27 RSVPs, we were expecting a field of around 35.  However, we only ended up with 16 people who showed up for the Challenge.  Why?  Well, Mr. Weather Man, who thank God turned out to be horrifically wrong, was the cause of so many people DNS-ing via no-show, because he had predicted temps of 100 degrees.  Again, he was wonderfully wrong!  This may upset some of you who decided to punt, but the temps yesterday were almost perfect!  Here are the actual temperatures of yesterday’s ride:

Start of Ride – 72
Lower Pine – 75
Upper Pine – 72
Lower Kitchen – 90
Gate 1/2 Up Kitchen – 86
Top of Kitchen – 79
Bottom of Engineers – 90
Top of Engineers – 82
End of Ride - 86

On both Kitchen and Engineers, we gave every rider cold dump water half way up.  With a refreshing 10MPH head wind up Kitchen and the shade on Engineers, nobody over-heated.  In fact, in the four years we have been doing this ride, yesterday, we had our highest finishing rate ever at 75%.  Even Luke, who just 5 days ago was still 9 years old, and Sarah, who is only 13, both finished the 100 miles with over 10,000 feet of climbing!  OK, . . . . . if Luke can complete this ride, so can you!  Here are the stats:
Total Riders: 16
Total Men:  10 (6 of whom finished)
Total Women:  6 (all 6 of whom finished)
Total Juniors:  6 (5 of whom finished)
Total 3 Climb Finishers:  12
Total 2 Climb Finishers:  3
Total 1 Climb Finishers:  1
Finishing Percentage:  75% (the previous two years were 60% and 56%)

A special THANK YOU goes out to Erin Steiner, who was such a helpful servant all day, and a great encourager to all the riders.  She helped Dawn and I keep everyone safe, well fed, and cool.  A special congratulations goes out to Mark Chuml, Mckenzie Steiner, Sarah Swan, Alex Wolfgang Lochmiller and Luke Swan, all of whom finished their first century ride with over 10,000 feet of climbing yesterday.  For some of them, this was their first century ever.  Wow!  What a way to check off the 100 mile mark!

Over the last four years, the PCC has developed its own mini-culture of close comradery.  It is really cool to watch a group of riders, many of whom do not even know each other at the beginning of the day, bond closer and closer together as the day progresses, and they reunite at each aid station, after putting a few more thousand feet of climbing in their legs.  There is just something about climbing 10,000 feet with a small group of very cool cyclists that brings them closer together.  My favorite part of the ride each year is watching everyone interact in the parking lot during the post ride feast.  Priceless.  Despite the extreme exhaustion, there is always tons of positive energy, lots of laughter, and big smiles.  It is something very unique and refreshingly cool to watch.  Only those who have suffered through a Pine Creek Challenge, and then hung out in that parking lot afterward, will understand and appreciate this.  Next year, you need to come join us!  Strive On!  

September 26th, 2014 - World Championship Road Race
Wow!  What an awesome race to watch.  Two quotes from people I respect are replaying through my mind after experiencing this race first hand.  The first one is from our Team Advisor and World Champion Amber Neben.  She said, “Every year the competition increases.  The peloton gets larger and faster every year, and the bar to remain competitive continues to get higher and harder to hit.”  Hannah’s road race today averaged 22.0mph for the 45 miles that had over 4,000 feet of climbing.  That speed is over 8% faster than last year’s World Championship race, and is about the same speed as a USA Pro NRC climbing stage.  Wow!  If you do not think that is fast, go out and climb 4,000 feet in that short of a distance and check your average speed!  The second quote that comes to mind is from Judd Van Sickle, the head cycling coach at UC Davis.  He said, “The number one determinant of success for young women cyclists is their ability to suffer and sustain deep VO2 efforts.”  While Hannah is certainly fast, her ability to hang out in VO2 land and survive big attacks has never been stellar.  Coming into today I was concerned about the Europeans, who race far more aggressive, and go much deeper in their attacks, than the US riders do.  I knew that if Hannah was not in the right position, i.e. up!, during one of these attacks, she would be in trouble.  Perception became reality.

93 riders took the start today.  That is a 15% increase in field size from last year.  Again, the Amber’s quote!  The racing was full gas right from the start.  With 4 laps and a total of 8 climbs, it was apparent that this would be a race of continual attrition.  By the top of the second climb, the 93 riders were reduced down to under 60.  All four US riders were still in the group.  The next few climbs continued to thin the pack, but it was on climb 6 of 8, at the end of lap 3 of 4, that the Italians went to the front and tested everyone’s VO2 abilities.  Hannah was sitting too comfortable, near the back of the group, not far enough up to handle the brutal attack that was about to be unleashed.  When the 30+ remaining riders topped out, Hannah and Maddy were hanging just off the back.  The peloton punched the descent and they were gone.  Europeans don’t ever sit up or play games.  Once you come off, you’re not getting back.  Emma and Janelle, both of whom went into climb 6 right toward the front, survived the attack and stayed with the group.  However, on the next and last lap, the Italians did it again, but even harder this time, sacrificing one of their riders in an amazing demonstration of pure suffering, then sending a second rider off even harder as the first one blew up, shattering the remaining peloton, dropping both of the remaining two US riders, Emma and Janelle, in the process.  However the 8 riders that got away off the front, in two different groups, did not work together on the final decent and Janelle and 12 others battled back up to catch the leaders with just 1k to go.  That brought the race down to a 20 person sprint.  The defending World Champion, Amalie Dideriksen, took the win again, making it look incredibly easy, while everyone else appeared in pure agony.  That girl has a serious future in this sport and could be the next Vos.  

Janelle ended up finishing in 17th.  Emma finished in 36th.  Maddy and Hannah came in together in 45th and 46th.  While Hannah still beat over half of the field, she is very disappointed.  She knows that she could have survived the first attack with simple positioning.  She could have, and should have, gotten up before that climb.  The attack was inevitable.  However, there was no way she could have survived the second 2 pronged attack based on how she trained for this race.  For those of you who plan on racing in Europe, I have one encouragement for you.  Do your VO2 intervals without fail!  The Europeans do them religiously.  Without any irony, the first 10 spots in this race all went to Europeans.  If you want to beat the Europeans, you need to train like the Europeans and practice attacking like them as well.
 
Once again, Hannah learned a great deal about herself and racing at the next level.  The experience was priceless.  It was an awesome educational adventure, and Spain was simply fascinating.  The lessons ascertained this week will build upon Hannah’s growing skill set and make her a far better cyclist for the future.  Strive On!

September 25th, 2014 - World Championship Road Race Preview
Hi Family, Friends, Sponsors, and Supporters.  It is official! I am in Ponferrada Spain with Hannah at the UCI Road Cycling World Championships.  Hannah is joining a stellar US Junior Women’s team of Emma White, Janel Cole, and Madeleine Boudet.  Emma and Janel raced the ITT three days ago and finished 5th and 15th respectively.  On the US Junior Men side, Adrien Costa and Zeke Mostov finished 2nd and 5th respectively in their TT, so the Juniors have been killing it so far here at Worlds.  In addition Evie Stevens took 3rd in the Elite Woman’s TT, and BMC and LuLu both won the TTT, so there have been lots of good US results.  Moral is high!

Most of you know that Hannah also made the Worlds team last year and competed in Firenze Italy. For those of you who read last year’s blog, you know just how crazy the Italian culture was in so many different aspects.  Spain, thank God, is far more laid back than Italy.  For starters, they actually have speed limits here, and the people obey them.  What a concept.  There is so much less stress driving and cycling on the road here.  Part of that is just the culture.  You see, most stores close each day from 2:00pm to 5:00pm, and most restaurants close from 3:00pm to 7:00pm, just so that everyone can go home and take a nap or rest.  I think all of that “siesta time” helps to mellow out the entire country, whereas in Italy, everyone just drinks espresso 24/7 and frys out at 200mph all day long.  Spain is not nearly as beautiful as Italy, and the food is nowhere near as good.  In fact the food has been quite challenging at times.  Both Hannah and I have had food poisoning stomach issues.  Nough said about that.
 
The UCI, via the local Ponferrada city council, via a local bike shop right here in Ponferrada, decided to bless me with a brand new (literally, never ridden) Trek Domane Road Bike for free use for my entire trip!  Why me?  A God thing!  What is more amazing is that the owner of the bike shop gave me everything I needed (bottles, tubes, pump, levers, etc. and the new carbon fiber bike in my exact size) without even asking for a credit card as security, checking my ID, or even having me sign anything.  He did not speak English, so he had his sister come into the shop to translate.  When I asked about signing something or giving him my credit card as security, she said, “Nope, he trusts you and knows that you will bring it back.  You are all set.  Have fun and bring it back whenever you want, all at no charge.  It is our pleasure do this for you.”  Wow!  You won’t see that in America!

The free bike has given me the opportunity to ride with Hannah over here in Spain which has just been incredible.  Today we pre-rode her RR course together, which is an amazing course.  Her 4 lap race is 45 miles with 4,000 feet of climbing, which is 5 miles shorter, with 1000 less feet of climbing than last year.  It winds through the tight downtown streets of Ponferrada, but then also climbs up into the local mountains that surround the town.  The course is very skinny with some sharp turns in town.  It also has some tough roundabouts, including the one that took out the Rabobank team in the TTT (see youtube).  The longer climb, which is 5k in length, is sustained at 7%-8% for the first 3k.  That climb is followed by an incredible descent on a very skinny road, that gets extremely dangerous right at the bottom via some sharp turns and a negative 16% grade that you fly into at 50MPH.  After going over a very tall, and a bit scary, Dam and then through a tunnel with no lights, the course hits the short climb, which jacks up to 11% at the bottom and then 10% at the top.  After that climb, it is a bomber downhill 5K descent all the way back down to the finish line in Ponferrada, and once again, there are some psycho high speed, very dangerous, turns on a very skinny road.  That final descent will prove to be very critical in the outcome and will push the risk/reward envelope for every rider.  There was an ambulance out there today and a rider on the ground when I went by.  The last 1.5k is flat and straight with one 90 degree turn.  The obvious move is to go on one of the two climbs and get a gap, take some risks on the descent, then hold your VO2 for the final 1.5k of flat and hope you do not get caught.

With the bike I was given and my video camera, I will be able to shoot the start, six additional shots in the middle of the race at two different spots via a very convenient cut across road half way up the climb, and then barely make it back to shoot the finish.  It will make for a very cool video, especially if Hannah can stay with the lead group, which is no easy feat at Worlds.  She lost the lead group last year 1.25 hours into the 2 hour race.

As I type, Hannah is currently at the UCI Worlds All Juniors Conference.  Last year they had Marrianna Vos and Peter Sagan speak to the 250 juniors, complete with headset translators for every kid, country and language. This year she is listening to Phillipe Gilbert and Eddie Merx.  Soooooo Coooool!  Well, it’s time for dinner and bed over here in Spain.  Tomorrow is the big day.  Please keep Hannah in prayer.  Thank you for your support.

September 2nd, 2014 - End of Season Totals
In Strive Racing’s goals, “Having Fun!” is always prioritized higher than results.  The entire team had a blast this year.  With the exception of two displaced, severely broken, bones (Hannah and Moriah), we had more fun this year than any other year.  Those two broken bones not only affected our fun, but they also certainly affected our results, as they happened right before the three State Championships and the National Championships.  Despite the injuries, which prevented Hannah from getting her Cat 1 upgrade, the team still had the best results they have ever recorded.  I would have never imagined that 5 riders could record over 50 wins and 150 podiums in one season, or that every rider on the team would be ranked #1 in the Nation in at least one discipline for their age?  It was an amazing year.  Here are the numbers:

Team Totals:
Total Events:  52
Total Wins:  55
Total Podiums:  158
State Championship Wins:  5
National Championship Wins:  1
National Championship Top 5’s:  6
#1 National Rankings:  8 (out of 15)
Top 5 National Rankings: 14 (out of 15) 
USAC LA Team Overall:  2nd out of 335 SoCal Teams (with only 5 riders)
Women Cat 1-3:  2nd (Hannah) and 3rd (Rachel) out of 134 riders
Women Cat 3-4 (2nd Half):  1st (Moriah) and 2nd (Sarah) out of 82 riders
Jr. Women 15-18:  1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th out of 20 riders
Jr. Women 9-14:  2nd out of 24 riders (Sarah at RA 13)
Jr. Men 9-12:  3rd out of 34 riders (Luke at RA 10)
Jr. Men 13-14:  16th out of 43 riders (Luke at RA 10)
Total Winnings (Cash and Prizes): $4,430 (not bad for a group of juniors!)

Individual Totals:
Wins:
Hannah: 16 
Rachel:  16
Luke:  9
Sarah:  8
Moriah: 6

Podiums:
Sarah:  42
Rachel:  37
Hannah:  32
Moriah:  27
Luke:  20

August 31st, 2014 – El Cajon Pass and CBR #9 - Last Local Race!
Wow!  The season is over.  What a concept.  The final weekend of racing for us was very special, as once again there were lots of heart felt good-byes from many good friends.  We began our crazy weekend of racing on Saturday with the El Cajon Pass Circuit Race.  We were in 5 different races that day, including two of them, which were run in 102 degrees.  OUCH!  More frustrating than the heat, were the goat heads.  Our team experienced 8 flat tires across our 5 races.  Seriously, 8 flats!  It really was almost inconceivable.  After I burned through all 5 of the extra tubes I had brought, I bought and borrowed 4 more from folks in the parking lot, just to make it through the day.  However, by the end of the day, everyone was out of tubes, as everyone else was flatting as well.  Being a circuit race with no free laps, we had to chase every time, which just destroyed our results.  With the heat and all the flats, it certainly was a character building race.  The next day was the final CBR of the season.  We had a blast hanging out in-between races with all our close friends under the Strive Tent.  Lots of laughs!  Rachel recorded her 16th win of the season in the junior race and then broke away with Cat 1 racer Melina Bernecker in the W1-3 race.  The two of them opened up a 15 second lead.  But Joy McCulloch and Colleen Gulick, both Cat 1’s, along with strong woman Katie Araujo, slowly reeled them in.  After they were caught it came down to the final sprint.  Rachel came around the final corner 6th wheel, once again too deep for coach’s approval.  But once again, Rachel amazed me, with an incredible sprint that ended in a photo finish for 2nd place.  Rachel missed the win by 1.5 bike lengths and missed 2nd place by 1 inch!  Still, Rachel was only beaten by two Category 1’s, Colleen and Melina, and her 3rd place finish earned her another upgrade point toward her Cat 1, so she was stoked.  It was a great day of racing!
 
August 24th, 2014 – CBR #8 & Volkswagen River Gorge
Its true!  Hannah recorded her 16th win of the season, and her 5th win this year in a Women Cat 1-3 field, this last weekend in Chattanooga, TN, as she took on the Volkswagen River Gorge Omnium.  42 Ladies took the start in the Road Race yesterday, 10 of which were Cat 1 or Cat 2.  The 36 mile road race with 3,000 feet of climbing finished with a solid 2,000 foot climb.  Hannah went to the front on this climb and slowly rode everyone off her wheel to cross the finish line solo!  It was a very solid win.  The day before, Hannah would finish 2nd to the Domestic Elite rider Amy Phillips from Pepper Palace in the Crit.  Unfortunately, she had no trainer, or TT bike, but just her road bike with its wonderful junior gearing for the downhill TT stage!  Her 5th place finish in that stage cost her the over-all win.  However, finishing 2nd in GC and taking home $475 in cash, well . . . . Hannah was very happy!

While Hannah was racing in TN, the rest of the crew was racing here in California at CBR.  The day was incredibly successful.  Luke, who is still just 9 years old (RA 10), took 4th in the Junior 10-12 race, just missing the podium, and once again only losing to three 12 year olds.  Luke is getting very fast!  Last week while we were getting Hannah settled at Milligan, Luke did the Hotter than Hell hill climb TT that had 4300 feet of climbing in it.  Amazingly, at age 9, Luke’s time of 1:40 was faster than both his 13 year old sister Sarah’s, AND his 15 year old sister Moriah’s time!  In fact, Luke only finished 5 minutes behind the time of his 17 year old sister Rachel!  Everyone was shocked.  Pretty sure Luke is a climber.  It will not be too many years in distant the future before Luke is faster than the entire Swan family, including myself!

The junior race successes at CBR continued, as Sarah took the win in the 10-14 Women’s race and Rachel took the win in the 15-18 Women’s race, with Strive Racing sweeping the podium.  The Category races also had good results.  After her Women 3/4 win last week at Ontario, Moriah almost did it again this week, but ended up finishing 3rd, as she was closely outsprinted by Katie and Shannon.  Sarah took 9th in this race, and as this was her 3rd race of the day, it was a good result.  Rachel had a great race as well in the Women’s Cat 1-3 race.  While the field was not real big, it was filled with some serious sprinting power, as PC, Coleen, and Jen, who would end up taking 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in that order have an average Crit score of 76.  Between Corners 3 and 4, a bunch of riders went early, pushing Rachel way back.  She came around the last corner in 8th which is not good at CBR if you want a decent finish.  However, in those last 150 meters, Rachel threw down a sick sprint, coming by 3 riders to take 5th.  I would have loved to see what she could have done with that sprint had she been on the wheel of one of those top three, because she fought wind the whole way and was closing, finishing just a few bike lengths back.  Super Sarah won the Endurance Queen Award this weekend, racing 4 Crits in one day!  Ouch!  That is Sarah?!?!  With Strive Racing racking up 3 wins and 8 podiums on the weekend, including a solid Cat 1-3 Road Race win for Hannah, it was an incredible weekend.   
 
August 10th, 2014 – San Marcos Criterium  - Hannah says goodbye to SoCal!
It’s OK to cry.  I did for the 5th time in the last two months today, as Hannah’s imminent departure became all too real today when she raced her last SoCal race before moving to Tennessee this Thursday.  This special day was filled with lots of heart felt hugs, going away presents, cards, and emotional goodbyes from lots of people who have been a huge part of our lives over the last few years.  There was even a little tribute over the PA system at the start of Women’s 1-3 race for Hannah, where Ralph Elliot acknowledged Hannah’s contribution to the cycling community over the last few years and how much she would be missed. 
 
Knowing it was her last race in California, Strive Racing’s Team Advisor, BFF, and World Champion, Amber Neben, even came down to race with Hannah today and encourage her.  I was doing pretty well emotionally until we were packing up the car at the end of the day and the loving hugs and hallmark words kept flowing from women in the parking lot who came by to say their final goodbye to Hannah.  It was very cool and very touching.  As others around me began to cry, I broke down for the 5th time, shedding my own tears, as I thought about how much I will miss Hannah.
 
The day started off awesome, with Hannah breaking away with Kyle Kirby in the Junior Race.  The two of them held off a field of 12 boys and girls, just drilling it every lap.  The two of them averaged 22.1MPH on this very hilly circuit with 600 feet of climbing.  While Kyle did the majority of the pulling, both Hannah and Kyle burned a lot of matches holding off the field.  When I saw Hannah’s HR for the junior race, I was a little concerned about how well she would fair in the Women 1-3 race at 2:00pm, which just like last week, had a very stiff field.  The top 10 Women who had signed up for the W1-3 race had an average Crit Ranking of 74.30.  13 out of the 35 starters had a better ranking than Hannah, and she was spent from her morning break away.  Her competition was fresh.  This was not good.  There are only so many matches you have to burn in one day of racing, and I did not think that Hannah had many left.  By 2:00pm, it was 90 degrees, and in the 50 minute race, Hannah would climb an additional 1100 feet.  
 
The race was tame for the first three laps, but then heated up on laps 4 and 5 up as teams began to attack.   The lead group was thinning quickly.  After the 5th time up the hill, 20 minutes into the race, the 35 riders were down to a lead group of 11 as they crossed the start finish line, including Hannah.  The 1st chase group behind the 11 leaders was a group of 8 riders that included Rachel.  The other 16 riders, including Moriah, Sarah, and a bunch of other very strong riders had been dropped and were scattered all over the course.  The lead group of 11 riders remained very aggressive for the next 30 minutes.  Small breaks continued to get away, only to be nailed back by the strong group.  Hannah made the decision to burn her final match when Amber Neben, Jessica Cerra, and Suzanne Sonye took off.  While she made this stellar breakaway group and the four of them got a gap, the effort finished her and she had nothing left in the tank to help make the break stick.  No free rides with a past, present, and future Pro.  Like all the others, the break got caught, and after a few more tried and failed attempts at a break, it eventually came down to an 11 person sprint.  Hannah did not contest.  She was done.  She took 11th.  In the 8 person chase group that finished a couple of minutes back, Rachel took 3rd in the group, giving her a 14th place finish on the day.  Given the caliber of the field (Rachel still beat 2 people with Crit scores in the 70’s), it was a very good result for her.  Moriah finished 23rd and Sarah was 24th.  This tough race was Sarah’s 3rd race of the day.  Not too often you go do a Crit and climb over 2,000 feet like Sarah did!  
 
The racing today was hard, but it was a lot of fun.  That said, it was not the racing that made this day so awesome.  Seeing the love that Hannah received today from the cycling community. . . . . . . well, that was priceless.  As I watched so many people love on my daughter, I was humbled.  At the same time, I was very proud of who she has become.  God is good.  Hannah is going to be deeply missed.  It’s OK to cry.
 
 
August 3rd and 4th, 2014 – Death Valley Stage Race and Brentwood Grand Prix 
I can only hope and pray that USAC is reading this blog in evaluating Hannah for Worlds!  Every week since her surgery, Hannah’s form has been returning.  It is safe to say after this weekend, that Hannah’s form is back!  It took 12 weeks post-surgery for Hannah to re-gain her speed, and she now seems faster than ever!

After climbing 8,000 feet on Saturday in the Death Valley Stage Race, where she finished 2nd to the SCNCA leader Joy McCulloch by less than a minute on each stage, I was convinced that Hannah would get schooled the next day at the Brentwood Grand Prix Criterium, as she had recorded near record time at her LTHR on Saturday, and then sat in the car for 5 hours immediately after the race as we drove back down to Los Angeles.

The next day, the 40 person Women’s P123 field at Brentwood was as stacked as a local crit can get, with every team sending their strongest riders and fastest sprinters to compete against Mary Maroon and Katie Donavan from Twenty 16 Pro Cycling and Kendall Ryan from Team Tibco, who all showed up for the $2,000 purse.  In addition to Suzanne Sonye, who has won this race multiple times, Denise Mueller and Julie Cutts, both World Champions, were in the field.  I knew it was going to be a barn burner from the whistle and I was praying that Hannah’s legs would hold up, as she had already cooked them via a hard break away win in the morning junior race.  It was Hannah's 70th win of her career.

Sure enough, the pace was screaming fast right from the whistle, blowing 13 riders out the back only to be pulled by the ref.   Kendal Ryan was an absolute animal the entire race, repeatedly attacking the field and getting away.  Her third and final solo escape opened up a 30 second gap.  She stayed away for 4 laps, but eventually got caught with 3 laps to go, probably by design, so she could recover and still win the final sprint, which she did!
 
Hannah raced incredibly well, but took the bell pretty deep in 11th place.  In that final 2 minutes,” those” cooked legs, that had 8,000 feet of climbing, and a hard junior race break away win in them, somehow still had enough power to push Hannah up 5 more spots on the final lap.  She finished in 6th place.  Hannah was only beaten by 3 Pros and 2 World Champions.  She beat all of the other Cat 1’s in the field.  I was humbly amazed.

Moriah and Sarah, who also had 8,000 feet of climbing in their legs, had a great day as well, taking 3rd and 4th respectively in the Women’s Cat 3 race.  Coming home with $300 cash, 1 win, 4 podiums, and the lowest team Crit Ranking score ever recorded, Brentwood was an absolute hoot!
 
July 27th, 2014 – CBR #7 
CBR #7 was a total rush.  While the field sizes were down a bit, Chris and Vera once again ran a flawless event with oodles of positive energy.  The Strive Racing team did very good, recording 11 top 10 finishes, 5 podiums, and 2 wins.  The junior races went well, then came the Women’s 3/4 race. There were 24 starters and the Swan’s rode perfectly the entire race. Moriah, who is currently leading SCNCA’s Women’s 3/4 division, threw down an awesome final sprint to end up 4th, and Sarah 13th. Megan Jastrab was also in the race, taking 6th place in her first Women’s 3/4 race. Great job Megan! The highlight of the day, however, was Hannah’s Women’s 1-3 race.  After winning the Junior race a few hours earlier, Hannah took the line with a small field of 9 Ladies.  Knowing that every race is an opportunity to regain the form lost from her crash, Hannah decided to attack the field a mere 10 minutes into this 50 minute crit.  She got a gap with one rider, Shannon Castle.  The two of them opened up about a 10 second gap in the first lap, but Shannon was not into drilling it as hard as Hannah wanted to hit it.  After one lap, Shannon decided to fall back to the peleton and Hannah was left with a hard decision.  40 minutes to go.  Solo???. . . . . . Ponferrada!!!!
 
With 40 min of racing still to go, Hannah thought about Spain!  She put her head down, brought her HR up to her LTHR, and committed to go for it solo!  Her gap continued to increase each lap and eventually she could see the pack in front of her on the long straight away, which just fueled her fire.  With four laps to go, Hannah had lapped the field solo!  She integrated back into the peloton, receiving numerous “great jobs” from the other racers.  After a few laps of recovery, Hannah positioned herself to lead Rachel out for second place.  On the small hill in between corner three and four, Hannah lit it up, flying by the pack with Rachel tightly on her wheel.  After rounding the last corner, Hannah pulled off, leaving Rachel with 200m to secure 2nd place.  Rachel then went ballistic, destroying the final sprint to take the field sprint win by 15 bikes lengths.  It was amazing!  With Hannah lapping the field solo, and then Rachel annihilating the field sprint, this was one of the most exciting Women’s 1-3 races I have ever watched.  It was a pretty fun car ride home : )

July 20th, 2014 – Cascade Cycling Classic 
The Cascade Cycling Classic was an amazing race that took place in a surreal setting up in beautiful Bend, Oregon.  This was Hannah’s 3rd USAC NRC Pro Stage Race and a huge stepping stone in resurrecting her form after her elbow surgery.  NATs was an incredibly difficult mental challenge for Hannah, because she knew how fast she was before the crash, and how much speed she had lost in just 7 weeks.  Being honest, I was amazed at how much speed she lost in just 7 weeks.  What became real clear at NATs was that three weeks of training was simply not enough time to get back 7 weeks of lost speed.  As we headed off for Cascade, Hannah had 5 weeks of training, post-surgery, and we were just starting to see signs of improvement.  She was very excited to jump back into the pro peloton and see if she could hang.  Rachel, who is only 16 (RA 17), decided to try and tackle this 6 day pro stage race as well, with just one goal; survive all the time cuts and make the final GC.  With two of the stages having 6,000 feet of climbing, and over 70 miles, and the time cut being set at 115% of the winner’s time, she knew she was in for a really big challenge.
 
After a very short prologue, the first road race, stage one, took place.  It was knocked down from 73 miles to 54 miles as a result of a fire near the original course.  Hannah hung with the lead group until the final climb.  The race then exploded, shattering 84 riders all over the mountain.  Hannah would finish 6 minutes behind the race winner, Lauren Stevens, from Team Tibco.  Unfortunately, 6 minutes translated to 72nd place out of the 84 starters.  Hannah’s form was simply not back, but Ponferrada Spain was calling, and the logging of 48 minutes of Zone 5 (90% of max HR) in that race served as an awesome stepping stone in revivifying her lost form.  Strive Racing Team Advisor, Amber Neben, was at the race.  She knows more than most how quickly speed is lost from bad crashes and how long it takes to get it back.  She was very encouraging to Hannah, telling her, “It takes weeks to loose speed, and months to get it back.  You have to be patient and trust the process.  The speed will return.”
 
Rachel ended up beating the 15% time cut easily, finishing 15 minutes back in 82nd place, beating two people.  She was happy to just to make it to the next stage.  As the race progressed, Hannah’s speed began to return, and she posted 38th and 44th place finishes in the remaining two road races.  She also hung for the first time in a 1 hour long Pro Women’s Criterium.  This one averaged 26MPH, which was smoking given that one corner really bottlenecked.  She finished with the field in 51st place.  At the end of the 6 stages, Hannah finished the race in 50th place in the final GC standings, beating 34 of the starters.  On her 10 hours of very challenging cycling, Hannah was only 25 minutes behind Lauren Stephens and Amber Neben, who went 1st and 2nd respectively in GC.  More impressively, Hannah would end up taking 2nd place in the Best Young Rider competition, behind the phenom, Kaitlin Antonneau, from Twenty 16 Pro Cycling.
 
Rachel accomplished her goal as well, beating all of the time cuts and making the final GC.  She finished 1 hour and 2 minutes back, which was good for 75th place.  While she only beat 9 of the 84 starters, at 16 years of age, simply making the final GC was very impressive.  Rachel was totally stoked and had a blast at this race.  It was an incredible experience for both girls and they had tons of fun.
 
July 9th, 2014 – USA Cycling Junior Road National Championships Full Recap 
The Time Trial day went pretty much as expected.  We knew going in that Hannah’s elbow surgery and resulting recovery time rendered a defense of her National Championship impossible.  She simply lost too much speed in the two months that followed her crash.  That said, even if she had not crashed, beating Emma White’s 28:53 may have still been impossible.  Hannah’s 30:42, was only good for 4th  place.  Rachel unfortunately struggled with going deep once again at the NATs TT, which left her in 10th place.  As Hannah and Rachel were 1st and 7th respectively last year in this race, they were both disappointed.  Sarah also rode below what she is capable of doing.  She finished in 11th.  Moriah rode way under her potential and ended up in 13th.  After a very discouraging day with no podiums, Luke was the only one left to ride.  The TT was Luke’s very first National Championship race, and he went out way too soft.  Half way through, right after the turn around, he got his groove on and settled into his target HR, which he nailed for the entire second half.  His time of 15:39 easily took 2nd place by 30 seconds, but missed the National Championship win by 20 seconds.  According to our math, he would have easily had the win if he had hit the numbers he had been hitting in training and by going out at his target HR.  Oh well, it was our first podium of Nationals and 2nd place is a very good finish in any boys division at NATs.

Saturday was by far the most fun day I have ever had at Nationals.  There were only two races that day for us.  They were Luke and Sarah’s road races.  Luke’s race was so much fun to watch.  On lap one, Luke attacked on the rollers and established a break-away group of 4 riders.  It was the top 4 finishers from the TT, so there was a pretty good chance that they would stay away.  After the climb on lap two, it was down to the top three from the day before.  As they approached the finish, Luke led out the sprint with 300m to go.  At 200m, Steven Heath swung on Luke and came blowing by him.  But Luke tucked back, dug deep, and then re-swung on Steven at 100m to go.  Luke then unleashed the strongest final sprint of his life, pulling away from Steven, to win his first National Championship by 10 bike lengths.  I came out of my skin screaming watching this incredible final sprint battle, and seeing my son come out victorious!  It was truly amazing, emotionally overwhelming, and made the entire NATs trip worth every penny.  Luke hit a HR that was 4 beats deeper than he had ever gone before.  4 beats!  Luke Swan had won Strive Racing’s 2nd National Championship!  

At 4:00pm, Sarah’s race started.  Like Luke’s race, the top 3 finishers from Sarah’s TT attacked on lap one and established a break.  Sarah knew this break was going to stick, so she decided to risk it all and try to bridge across to the three leaders. Jane Tullis, who had gotten 5th in the TT the day before, joined Sarah, and the two of them took turns pulling, absolutely killing themselves for 5 minutes to get across the gap.  All of Sarah’s VO2 work had paid off, as she literally hovered right on her VO2 threshold for the entire 5 minutes.  Once Sarah and Jane got across, of course Meghan Doherty and Katie Clouse wanted to continue to drill it.  No rest for the weary!  Sarah had to start pulling in the five person rotation right away, but she was determined not to get dropped from this group, as it guaranteed her a podium.  Sarah took hard pulls and ended up with an average HR of 195 for the 43 minute race.  Yaaa, can you say pain tolerance!  Sarah is 13.  For you Garmin Zoners out there, go out and try and hold Zone 5.6+ for 43 minutes.  If you use another device, try and hold 94.2% of your max HR for 43 minutes.  Pure pain!  Sarah is an animal and I cannot wait for her body to catch up with her heart and determination.  Once her muscles start filling out, she is going to be deadly fast!  Sarah hung all the way to the end and then took 4th in the sprint which was her highest finish ever at Nationals.  Sarah has now made the Nationals podium three years in a row (only Swan to do this), with two of them coming at the bottom of her age division, and the other coming with a broken arm!  With a 1st and a 4th, that both came from incredible striving efforts, the day was better than anything I could have ever imagined.

The last day of Nationals was the Criteriums.  Luke began with the very first race of the day (yup, another very early morning).  He rode well and helped trim down the pack.  On the last lap, once again, it came down to the top 3 riders from the previous two races, Zayk, Steven, and Luke.  As the one to go bell rang, Steven attacked hard right as he crossed the line.  Luke had done a ton of work on the previous two laps, so he looked at Zayk to close the gap.  What he did not realize was that Zayk was cooked.  By the time Luke realized Zayk had nothing left in the tank and was not going to respond to Steven, Steven was already gone, 20 bike lengths up the road with only 3/4 of a lap to the finish.  Luke went after Steven solo and was closing him on the hill, but Luke ran out of road, and Steven took the win.  Luke would easily take 2nd place by about 30 bike lengths. Luke was taught a very valuable lesson that day on last lap racing tactics and timing.  It was a gutsy move by Steven, but it paid off big time.  Great job Steven!  With two 2nd place finishes and one 1st place National Championship, Luke had an incredibly successful NATs.
 
Sarah and Moriah’s Crits were next and both were fairly uneventful.  Sarah would finish in 8th place and Moriah would finish in 13th place.  Both races had some awesome final sprint battles for the win from young ladies whose legs were as big as my girls’ torsos.  Given the size of the Swan girls’ legs, and the fact that they were both at the bottom of their age divisions, Sarah and Moriah did well
  
Our last race of the day was the Women’s 17-18 crit, which had a starting field of 32, and averaged 24.3MPH on this hilly course, so it was filled with good racing.  Toward the end, after spending 5 laps on the front, repeatedly attacking the field, Janel Cole attacked yet again with 2 laps to go, and this time opened up a small gap.  Hannah, Emma, Laurel, and Danielle all looked at each other and played “Chicken Chess” with who would go after her.  Their hesitating game ended up costing them all the win as Janel punched it and opened up a big enough gap to hold on to the solo win.  On the last lap Hannah came into the final hill in 5th place.  She knew she could not out sprint the big leg ladies after the hill was over, and that if she stayed there, the best she could do was 5th.  Her only chance was to swing out into the head wind at the bottom of the hill with over 300m to go.  As soon as she rounded the corner, Hannah swung and drilled the hill hard, passing everyone (except Janel who was still a few seconds out in front), but both Emma and Laurel just barely got onto Hannah’s wheel as the hill flattened out and they rounded the last corner for the flat finish.  Hannah did not have the power after 300m of sprinting to hold them off, and both Laurel and Emma would just barely nip Hannah right on the line.  Hannah would get 4th, just like she did the year before, missing the podium once again by a small fraction of a front wheel.  Given that Hannah had major surgery that included a plate and 7 screws to bolt her snapped arm back together just 8 weeks before NATs, and the fact that she only had 3 weeks to train, her finishes of 6th, 4th, and 4th were very impressive.  Bad cycling crashes, like the one Hannah had at the Tour of the Gila, can happen at any time.  It is a tough pill to swallow when bones break right before your most important races.  However, over time, they eventually will break, and at the worst time.  As our Team Advisor Amber Neben always says, it is not a question of “if,” it is only a question of “when.”  It happens to everyone who races.  Hannah will be back and she will be back stronger than ever.

There is no doubt that Hannah and Moriah’s broken bones really hurt the team’s results, most likely costing us at least 4 podiums and 1 National Championship.  That said, it was still a very successful year for Strive Racing at Nationals.

Here are the final Team numbers from NATs:
Riders at the top of age division:  2
Riders at the bottom of age division: 3
Total Races:  15
Number of Top 10s:  10
Number of Top 5s:  6
Number of Podiums:  4
National Championships: 1

Here are the individual results:

Hannah (Top of 17-18)
Field – 32 Riders
RR - 6th
TT - 4th
Crit - 4th

Rachel (Bottom of 17-18)
Field – 32 Riders
RR - 13th  (8th in 17s)
TT -  10th  (5th in 17s)
Crit - 12th  (7th in 17s)

Moriah (Bottom of 15-16)
Field – 22 Riders
RR -  7th  (5th in 15s)
TT -  13th  (7th in 15s)
Crit - 13th  (7th in 15s)

Sarah (Bottom of 13-14)
Field – 21 Riders
RR - 4th  (2nd in 13s)
TT -  11th  (4th in 13s)
Crit -  8th  (3rd in 13s)

Luke (Top of 9-10)
Field – 13 Riders
RR - 1st
TT -  2nd
Crit - 2nd

July 3rd, 2014 – USA Cycling Junior Road National Championships - Time Trial Prelude 
Today was a great day of recovery.  Good sleep.  Good food.  Nice recovery spin on the TT course with a few digs to test the legs.  This afternoon we are washing bikes, fine tuning shifting, and preparing mentally for the suffer-fest that is tomorrow.  Hannah will have a tall order defending her National Championship TT, as she simply has not returned to form she had before her elbow surgery, just 8 weeks ago.  Both Emma and Janelle look very strong this year.  They are both very fast and will be hard to beat.  That said, Hannah is definitely getting her mental swag on this afternoon and I am confident that she will give it her all tomorrow, unlike her effort in the RR yesterday.  Rachel is the wild card.  If she can match Hannah’s HR, she is faster than Hannah.  She beat Hannah’s time at States this year, but has historically struggled in the NATs TT.  Last year she averaged 7 beats below Hannah, as she really cracked upstairs.  That effort put her in 8th place.  If Rachel can find her laser focused mentality, deep in the pain cave, she could easily make the podium.  15 year old, 90 pound Moriah, is by far the tiniest girl in her division and simply does not have the power at the bottom of her age division to compete against the 140 pound 16 year olds in a TT.  While she only missed the podium by 15 seconds yesterday after almost two hours of hard road racing, a 30 minute time trial is another story.  A top 10 finish for Moriah would be a great result.  13 year old Sarah has also never done well in the TT at NATs.  At 5’4” and 92lbs, she is just too lanky to stay aero on a road bike (USAC rules) and generate the power required to compete against the big leg power-house girls, most of whom are a year older than her.  However, what Sarah has going for her is her ability to sustain VO2 efforts, and suffer much longer than the average girl.  While she certainly cannot hold a VO2 for 14 minutes, she may be able to hold on to one for the last half of her TT (7 minutes), which might just propel her on the podium if she gets the timing just right and does not blow up.  Luke, . . . well,  . . . we really have no idea how fast he is compared to the best in the Nation.  His two pre-rides of the TT course at three-quarter efforts have not yielded very fast times, so we will just have to wait and see what he can do, when he goes full throttle.  It will be a very exciting, fun day of racing.  Rachel is the first one off at 1:47pm and Luke is the last one off at 5:37. Please keep us in prayer!
 
July 2nd, 2014 – USA Cycling Junior Road National Championships Day 1 - Blue Mounds Road Race 
Well, the first day of the 2014 Junior Road National Championships is in the books for Strive Racing.  We were all up at 4:15am, as Hannah and Rachel’s 17-18 road race started at 7:00am sharp.  In 54 degrees, light rain, and medium winds, 29 Ladies took the chilly start for the 41 mile road race with 3300 feet of climbing, culminating with the dreaded 400m 15% finish.  The pace was pretty good given the 3300 feet of climbing, averaging 19.3mph, but it was well within both Hannah and Rachel’s current fitness level.  Unfortunately, Rachel, did not go deep enough to make the 8 person break that got established at the top of the first climb and she got gapped off by about 25m.  That was all it took.  As the break-away group crested the top of the hill and punched it, Rachel’s fate was determined.  Chase group.  It is a shame, because she was not under significant physical duress.  Mentally, however, she was not there, and she sat up when she could have easily dug deep enough to make the break.  Hannah did make the break, but had mental challenges as well on the finishing hill, cracking at 200m to go as the 3rd place rider, and final podium spot, came by her.  As Hannah was on the podium last year in this race, she lost her will to try at that point and sat up, allowing two more riders to come by her that were significantly behind her.  She finished 6th.  Unmotivated to fight for 9th place in the chase group, Rachel didn’t go hard on the final climb and finished in 13th.  As the two of them finished in 3rd and 8th place respectively last year in this race, they are pretty disappointed.  They are downcast not so much because of their results, but more so, because of their lack of effort.  
 
In cycling, you get what you pay for.  My girls know this to be true from personal experience, but it still hurts every time you have to relearn this terrible truth.  Last year Rachel’s avg. HR was 7 beats higher than this year and she went 6 beats deeper on the finishing hill.  She finished 5 spots higher in the results.  Last year Hannah was in the exact same position with the break away on the final hill with 200m to go, but went 8 beats deeper in her HR to make the podium.  Both girl’s total Zone 5 time today was significantly less than last year (almost non-existent), meaning each of them had plenty of physical matches left to burn.  They both know that they could have gone deeper when it counted.  However, when it comes time to pay in cycling, you have to be mentally ready to pay, . . . . right then.  If you’re not, you simply cannot pay physically.  If you are not ready mentally, you have no chance physically.  Both Hannah and Rachel suffered a mental loss today, which is much harder to swallow than when you have left everything out there physically and just get beat by someone who is stronger and faster than you.  Those losses are easier to swallow because you know you did the best you could, leaving it all out there.  
 
That brings us to Moriah, who left it all out there today.  She killed it both mentally and physically.  While Moriah’s 15-16 field was small at only 16 starters, most of the riders were at the top of their age division, unlike Moriah, making it a challenging field for her.  Moriah dug deep when it counted and she made the 7 person break away group.  She hung with the group all the way until that dreaded final 400m 15% finish.  While Moriah would end up missing the 5 person podium by just a matter of seconds, her 7th place finish today was outstanding!  Moriah logged over 20 more minutes of Zone 5 time (90% of max HR) than her two older sisters combined, and she did so with one less trip up the climb!  Winning mentally the whole race, Moriah truly left it all out there physically. She simply got beat.  There is no doubt in my mind, that had Moriah not broken her arm and been in a cast until May 27th, that she would have been on the podium today.  Great job Mighty Momo!

 
June 30th, 2014 – USA Cycling Junior Road National Championships Prelude 
Today is Monday and the entire Swan crew is now in Wisconsin. Some of you already know that we had just enough airline miles for Luke and myself to fly in for free, which worked out well with my work situation.  Dawn and the four girls got the unamiable task of driving the five Swan Ladies, along with 7 bikes and a plethora of gear all the way across the country.  Dawn, with some driving help from Hannah, spread the drive across three days.  Google maps said it would take 29.5 hours.  It ended up taking 34.  God blessed us with an incredible home here in Wisconsin that we scored for significantly cheaper than two hotel rooms.  It is old (built it 1840) and it is well off the beaten path (40 - 50 minute drive to most of the races), but it is well worth it, as each day we get to come “home” to a spectacular 10 acre farm house, way out in the country.  It is very private and perfect for staying focused.
 
So what are the realistic goals of each rider on Strive Racing?  Well, three of our five riders (Rachel, Moriah, and Sarah) are all at the bottom of their age divisions.  Anyone who has raced nationals knows how hard it is to make the podium at the bottom of your age division.  Rachel, who has never made a Nationals podium even at the top of her age division, certainly has her work cut out for her.  Her goals are to be top 10 in every race and to make 1 podium, which is only top 3 in 17-18 (top 5 in the other divisions).  When Hannah and Rachel are at the same HR on the TT bike, Rachel is faster.  That said, Rachel has always struggled at big venues mentally, which affects her ability to go deep physically.  If Rachel can put it together upstairs, she can definitely make a podium, as she is definitely fast enough.  Moriah, who is also at the bottom of her age division, is still recovering from a severely broken radius that happened in a late April racing crash.  The bone was snapped clean through and displaced about 25%.  They had to knock Momo out with general anesthesia just to set the bone back in place, but the doctors elected to not perform surgery and just let her bone heal on its own in a cast.  Moriah ended up missing over 6 weeks of training, which really set her back.  Her fitness is just now starting to return back to where it was in March, which is a shame, because by the end of April, right before her crash, Moriah was getting really fast.   Moriah, who has made the podium at NATs at the bottom of her age division in the past, is still shooting for 1 podium this year.  Her goals are to be top 10 in every race and step onto the blocks in either in the RR or the Crit.  If she can make the break-away at Blue Mounds, the sustained 14% finish of that race will be her best shot at a podium.
 
Sarah, Strive Racing’s beast, whose reputation is defined by pure heart and an insane pain tolerance, has been riding very solid over the last month, recording two 2nd place finishes and her first win in the Women’s Cat 3-4 division.  Sarah is the only Swan to ever win a Women’s Cat 3-4 race at age 13, and she received her Category 3 upgrade just last week. Sarah has also made the podium at NATs at the bottom of her division, but she has a very stacked field this year, including 8 riders who have stood on the NATs podium in years past.  While Megan Doherty and Katie Clouse both appear to be unbeatable, Sarah’s striving determination just may shock everyone and provide the foundation for an upset.  Sarah’s goals are to make the top 10 in the TT and be on the podium in both the RR and the Crit.  Very lofty goals for the bottom of an age division.
 
Our two riders who are at the top of their age division are Hannah and Luke.  Most of you know that Hannah snapped her elbow (olecranon) clean in half in a brutal crash in early May.  It took a titanium plate and 7 screws to bolt her bones back together.  Like Moriah, Hannah’s training was set back about 5-6 weeks, and she lost a tremendous amount of speed.  It is very unfortunate, because Hannah was extremely fast before the crash.  She had just finished 63rd out of the 116 starters in the five day Redlands Classic NRC Pro stage race, beating 53 Pro/1/2s.  The crash and her resulting surgery set Hannah way back and she has yet to even regain last year’s speed when she won the Nats TT.  We only had about 4 weeks to try and get Hannah back into form.  While we did the best we could, it simply was not enough time.  Despite knowing that she is slower than she was last year, Hannah’s is still extremely determined to make all three podiums and come away with at least one National Championship.  
 
Luke is our other rider at the top of his age division.  At age 9 (racing age 10), his time spent competing against the 10-12 boys has certainly made him faster.  Ambitious as possible, Luke’s goals are to win all three National Championships.  While we are allowing him to aim high, winning one of the three would be awesome, and humbly speaking, is realistic, as Luke is very fast for his age. 
 
Yesterday we went and pre-rode both Sarah's and Luke’s road race course.  It has an awesome 10% finishing hill which is perfect for those two.  It was very encouraging.  Sarah and Luke are very excited.  Today we are headed out to pre-ride the brutal Blue Mounds RR course for Hannah, Rachel, and Moriah!  Strive On!  Getting closer.  Check back for updates.  

June 8th, 2014 – GMR TT and Now Energy Bar Crit 
It was a great cycling weekend.  Everyone except Rachel, who was intelligently taking the SAT, began their racing by tackling the intimidating GRM TT, which vaunts 2,300 feet of climbing in 9 vertical miles.  The Strive team climbed very well, leaving the event with three 1st places and a 2nd.  From there, we spent the afternoon with Strive Racing Team Advisor Dave Jordaan, who dialed in perfect bike fits on both Hannah’s and Rachel’s TT and road bikes.  Dave is a USA Cycling Level 1 Coach, and has one of the most impressive coaching resumes in the nation.  Dave has coached countless riders to a plethora of State, National, and even World Championship titles.  He is extremely knowledgeable in every facet of cycling and is a proficient, meticulous bike fitter, who knows how to make microscopic adjustments to increase both power and speed.  Dave is very selective on whom he chooses to coach, but he will do a bike fit on anyone and his astute adjustments are worth every penny he charges.  If you want to go faster, you need to contact Dave Jordan, Cyber Cycle Coach.

On Sunday, we tackled CBR #6, where our 5 riders raced a total of 11 times.  The team had its most successful day of the season, recording 2 wins, 6 podiums, and 10 top 10 finishes.  The only result outside the top 10 was when 9 year old Luke raced up in 13-14.  Before that race, he scored 2nd place in the 10-12 race, which was his best Crit finish of the year.  In the Women’s 15-18 race, Rachel recorded her highest max HR to dominantly take her 12th win of the year, beating Hannah by four bike lengths.  Three hours later, Rachel would unfortunately hit the deck at 27MPH in the Women’s 1-3 race, when another rider crashed one foot in front of her, instantly taking her out.  Tough as nails, Rachel got up and got back into the race.  Bleeding and tweaked, Rachel still managed to squeak out a 7th place from the 15 starters.  She is cut and bruised, but will be OK.  Thank God!  We have had enough broken bones this year.  Hannah finished 5th in that race, and she is starting to show signs of returning to form.  Yahooo!
  
Sarah had a simply amazing weekend, recording almost two hours of Zone 5 across her four races and racking up two very solid wins and three podiums.  She beat soon to be National Champion Megan Jastrab on Saturday and then Cheyenne Comer on Sunday, two girls who have been really hard to beat this year.  Sarah then went on to take 3rd in the 15-18 race and 9th in the Women’s Cat 3-4 race.  In the Women’s Cat 3-4 race, mighty Momo’s mojo finally returned, as she threw down an outstanding final sprint to take 2nd place, recording 2 more points toward her Cat 2 upgrade.  It was a super fun and exciting day!
 
June 1st, 2014 – Ladera Ranch 
It was a beautiful day to race in Ladera Ranch. The plethora of green grass, gorgeous trees, and smooth roads make this technical Crit race a lot of fun. Sarah and Moriah started the action in the Women's 3-4 race, which saw a starting field of 27. Sarah recorded her third top ten, taking 6th, while Moriah, who got 20th, is still searching for her mojo, which was lost with her broken arm.  We are confident that Moriah will re-find it before Nats.  A few hours later, Hannah and Rachel joined a field of around 30 in the Women's 1-3 race. Today was Hannah's first day back after missing five weeks with a broken elbow.  Hannah, like Moriah, definitely lost some fitness over those five weeks.  However, with three and a half weeks to go before Nats, there is just enough time for her form to return.  Hannah would miss the eight person break that swelled to 10, and she would take 2nd in the field spent behind Shelby to get 12th. Rachel made her third consecutive, and successful, Women 1-3 breakaway, which averaged 25.0 mph. Two of the teams had multiple riders in the break, and Katie Donovan from Twenty16 was also there. Monster Media, who had four riders in the break, executed great team tactics, and eventually split the break into two groups of five with three laps to go. Rachel, who was in the second group, would finish 2nd to Suzanne Sonye, giving her 7th on the day.  It was Rachel's third top ten in a row in Women 1-3. These are strange times.  Cheyenne Comer is beating her older sister Courtney, Sarah Swan is beating her older sister Moriah, and Rachel Swan is beating her older sister Hannah.  Strange, but very cool as Sarah and Rachel are definitely getting faster.  It is fun to watch. Another great day of racing is in the books. 
 
May 29th, 2014 – Hannah Broken Elbow Update 
Well, we shot new X-rays and the doctor was amazed at how well things are healing, Hannah's range of motion, and her strength.  Hannah is returning to the road this week!  Whoo-Hoo! 
 
May 27th, 2014 – Barry Wolfe and CBR 
Both of these crits were an absolute hoot!  Rachel continued her amazing weekend.  After winning her 6th State Championship in the Time Trial on Saturday, she went on to win both Junior races Sunday and Monday at these two crits, bringing her win total to 11 on the year.  After her Junior race wins, she then went on to take 11th and 5th in the Women Cat 1-3 races.  Those two results secured her a #1 National Ranking in Crit for 17 year olds.  After winning his 2nd State Championship on Saturday, Luke recorded two top five finishes in 10-12, finishing 3rd and 4th in these two Crits.  Those results also secured Luke a #1 National Ranking in Crit.  This brought the team's #1 National Rankings to 8 out of the 15.  All 15 National Rankins are in the top 5.  While Moriah worked through trying to find her lost form after 6 weeks off the bike, Sarah continued to impress with another top 10 in the Women 3-4. 
 
May 25th, 2014 – Hannah Broken Elbow Update 
It took 10 days before Hannah could sleep through the night without heavy pain meds, but I am happy to report that she is now off the meds, sleeping through the night, and actually on the trainer. We've all been praying for fast healing and after doing our 10 day post op. follow up, the surgeon was very impressed with how things looked. She gave Hannah the green light to go hard on the trainer, and we are going back next week to shoot new x-rays in hopes of getting cleared for the road. Thank you for your prayers, encouragements, and emails. Hannah has really been blessed by all the support. Right now, it looks she will compete at Nationals and attempt to defend her National Championship. Whoo-Hoo! 
 
May 24th, 2014 – State Championship Time Trial 
The state championship time trial today went incredible. The team won 2 out of the 4 championship races, and took second place in the two races we lost. Rachel won her race by over two minutes with a time of 43:06, which was faster than Hannah’s time from last year, and Hannah went on to win the National Championship Time Trial. We are very excited about Rachel’s result today. Moriah, who just had her cast removed two days ago, and hasn’t been on the bike for six weeks, was simply trying to find out how much form she had lost. The bad news is that she has lost a lot of form in six weeks, the good news is that she is determined to get it back quickly, and she put in a solid effort today doing both the category 3 and the junior race. She finished 2:48 behind Rachel Cross in the junior race, who had a time of 50:45, which was amazing given the fact that she was racing on a flat tubie for much of the race. Sarah put in an outstanding effort as well, but her time of 14:01 was only good for second place behind Cheyenne Comer. Luke, who is 3.5 years younger than Sarah, posted an amazing time of 14:08 to win his division by 35 seconds. It was Luke’s second state championship win this year. It was a great day!
 
May 17th & 18th, 2014 – Vlees Huis RR and Torrance Crit 
For the first time in three years, we did not win the Women's 3-4 race. Two years ago, Hannah won, last year Rachel won, this year Moriah was supposed to win, but was out with a broken arm.  With Sarah too sick to race this weekend, Rachel was the only Strive member racing. After 60 miles and 5,000 ft of climbing, Rach would miss 2nd by three inches. Joy soloed off to take the win. The Torrance crit was an absolute blast. Luke recorded his first top five in the 10-12 race, finishing in 4th place behind three 12 year olds. He also raced his first 13-14 race. At age 10 the pace was a little too fast for him, but he had a blast. In the woman 15-18 race, once again, Rachel was the only one who could make the boys 13-14 break that averaged 23.7 mph. It was Rachel's 8th win of the season. The Women's 1-3 race only had 9 starters, but with Joy, Emily, and Vicki we knew it would be a challenge. Joy and Em continued to try and get away with each lady covering the other ones attack. Finally, with 4 to go, Emily got away with Rachel on her wheel. The two of them worked really hard to hold off the field to finish 1st (Em) and 2nd (Rachel). Of course Joy won the feild sprint It was Rachel's 1st W 1-3 breakaway and her first upgrade points toward her Cat 1. It was an awesome day of racing and everyone had a lot of fun! 
 
May 9th - 11th, 2014 – 805 Weekend 
With Hannah and Moriah staying home with broken wings, Rachel, Sarah, Luke, and I headed off to do the plethora of crits across the 805 weekend. It was 3 days of fun racing that included a twilight crit and two days of junior races. The fields were small in the junior races and the women category races had around 35 ladies. Luke, Sarah, and Rachel all did great in their junior races bringing home 4 wins. The heavy fireworks took place in the Women 1-3 crit on Saturday, where 25 mph winds, with even stronger gusts, made an already very technical course extremely tough. Katie Donovan and Colleen Gulick made the race extremely fast from the whistle, but it was Joy Mcculloch who decimated the field with her powerful pulls on the front. Rider after rider got shelled out the back, till the peleton was cut down from 36 to 19, one rider at a time. It was single file the entire race. Rachel hung by a thread, but stayed with the main group. In the state championship race on Sunday, Joy again demonstrated her outstanding work ethic on the front. We were stoked when Joy won the final sprint and took the state championship. She deserved it. The venue was simply amazing, with incredible sponsors, announcers, courses, people, music and fun. I highly recommend this race for next year.
 
May 1st, 2014 – Hannah's Tour of the Gila Crash 
Well, . . . . the Tour of the Gila, Hannah’s 2nd Pro race, did not go quite as well as her first one, the Redlands Bicycle Classic.  On day one of Gila, Hannah was involved in a really bad crash that may have ended her dreams of defending her National Championship in July, representing the United States in Ponferrada, Spain at Worlds in September, and then becoming a World Champion.
 
In Stage 1 of 5, at mile 65, the peloton was doing 30 miles per hour in some pretty stiff cross winds.  A few sketchy, non-pro riders in the field had been making everyone a little bit nervous.  While Hannah is not a Pro herself, and a Junior at that, this was Hannah’s 239th race, and she is known for being a very safe wheel.  In her 238 previous races, she had only crashed once, so I guess she was due.  Unfortunately, the timing could not have been worse.
 
So what happened?  The woman that was two riders in front of Hannah severely over-reacted to something, slamming on her brakes and swerving to the right.  That caused the rider directly in front of Hannah to do the same, but even harder.  The big swerve instantly chopped Hannah’s front wheel out from under her before she could even get to the brakes.  She was instantly slammed into the rocky New Mexico asphalt, snapping her elbow (olecranon) clean in half.
 
After spending 9 hours in the Silver City hospital, which was filled with cyclists from the 60 person wreck in the Pro Men’s race, I finally got Hannah seen, medicated, splinted, and put to sleep at 2:30am.  Rachel, who was doing her first pro race at Gila, had been very sick for over a week.  She started Stage 2 the next morning, but was not there mentally, as she was very concerned about Hannah.  She was dropped in the first five minutes and then did all 75 miles and 6,000 feet of climbing solo.  No fun.  The next morning, Hannah’s arm was so swollen, we decided to pull Rachel out of the race and come home from New Mexico
  
Today, Hannah had surgery.  It took a large titanium plate and 7 screws to bolt her broken elbow back together.  Hannah is now at home, and she is in tremendous pain.  Recovery will be a challenging road for Hannah that will no doubt strengthen her character and resolve.  Hannah was scheduled to leave for Nationals in 7.5 weeks.  To be honest, it would take some divine healing for Hannah to be able to compete at Nationals.  Even if she can race that soon, the odds of being competitive against the fastest girls in the Nation after missing that much time on the bike, are not good.  That said, we believe in an awesome God.  Trusting Him through all of this, regardless of whether or not Hannah can compete at Nationals, will be a character building journey.  His ways are not always our ways, but they are always filled with opportunities to grow closer to, and trust in, Him.  For those of you who have the stomach, here are the before and after shots of Hannah’s elbow.
 
April 23th, 2014 – Moriah Boken Arm Update 
Tuesday was a very crazy day.  The doctors re-x-ray –ed Moriah to find out that the setting of the bone did not stick 100%.  The bone had slid back out of place by about 20%.  With some hesitation, the Doctor told us that Moriah would have to have surgery the next day and that she would have a bunch of pins stuck through her bones to keep them in place.  We were all very discouraged.  We woke on Wednesday and we were about to head off to the surgery center when we got a phone call from the Doctor.  She said that after consulting a number of experts, she had decided against the surgery.  She believed that the 20% displacement would get mostly sucked back into place and then fill in.  She wanted to avoid surgery if we could.  She said there is still a very small chance that the bone would heal the wrong way, in which case she would have to re-break Moriah’s arm in 6 weeks and pin it back together, but she wanted to take that chance, because the odds are small.  So, all they did was re-cast Moriah.  Right now the plan is to keep the cast on until May 27th.  Unfortunately, that is after the third and final State Championship.  Fortunately, it is still 5 weeks before NATs.  That said, 7 weeks off the bike will set Moriah way back.  Moriah, whose form was just starting to show, was hoping to win all three State Championships and then podium at NATs in the Road Race, even though she is at the bottom of her age division.  With the finishing hill on the NATs RR course, she could have done it.  Unfortunately, the three State Championships are now all gone and the NATs podium will be a very tall order after 7 weeks off the bike.  That’s racing.  This is all very good character building for Moriah and we are doing our best to encourage her.  
 
April 20th, 2014 – RR State Championships and Ontario #4 
This last weekend was a lot of fun.  Unfortunately, the junior State Championships RR did not get very big fields.  With Moriah out with a broken arm, and Hannah and Rachel in the same division, we came home with 2 out of the 3 State Championships we tried for.  Congrats to Luke and Rachel.  Congrats also to McKenzie who dropped Sarah, and everyone else, on the final climb to win her State Championship.  The next day was Ontario, which was a blast!  In the 10-14 race, Sarah got boxed in by boys when Megan and Cheyenne shot off the front.  The two of them drilled it, getting a good gap.  Sarah tried, but she could not reel them in.  She would end up 4th.  Luke once again stayed attached until the final sprint in the 10-12 boys race.  He finished 10th.  The older Juniors race was awesome!  Rachel was the only girl to make the boys 13-14 break-away in the W15-18 race, and she helped drive the break and keep it away to take the win.  The break went on lap one and almost got caught twice.  The gap went from 5 seconds all the way up to 40 seconds, and then back down to 8 seconds with 1 to go.  Rachel then came to the front and drilled most the final lap to keep it away by 4 seconds.  Hannah, after repeated, expert marking, sitting, and blocking would win the field sprint to take 2nd.  More great fun happened in the Women’s 1-3 race.  The pace was pretty slow at 23.8mph which left Hannah with lots in the tank for the final sprint.  She came around the last corner 5th wheel and then swung with 150 meters to go.  She almost had the win, missing 1st place by just 1/2 a bike length.  She would take 3rd behind Keely and Joy, two very strong sprinters, as all the three of them lunged for the line.  It was a very cool final sprint! 
 
April 14th, 2014 – Moriah Breaks Her Arm 
It is true.  Moriah’s arm is broken in two places.  Sunday morning, in a Woman’s 3-4 race there was a bad crash that took down 14 riders, including Moriah.  The 41 person pack was moving at a pretty good clip when an attack at the front caused a few riders in the middle to cross wheels as they tried to respond.  When the five ladies in directly in front of Moriah all hit the deck, Moriah had nowhere to go.  She did her best to scrub speed and not go down, but she was launched.  In the air, she twisted onto her back to save her collar bone and as she hit the deck she thought she was going to be OK.  Of course just then 7 more Ladies behind her all came crashing into the pile up.  A crank arm/pedal slammed directly into Momo’s right arm, fracturing her Ulna and snapping her radius all the way through, displacing it about 12mm.  After knocking MoMo out with some general anesthesia, the doctor was able to violently pull the bone back into place after three tries.  We are hoping the bone will stay in place and start to heal, as it was a very clean break.  If it does not stay over the next week, she will have to have surgery, where she will get a plate and screws.  Please pray the bone stays put. 
 
April 6th, 2014 – Redlands Continued 
The Crit was incredible.  Local rider Joy McCulloch, who was guest riding for LuLu helped establish a very solid break of five Ladies that held a 5 – 10 second gap for a long time.  The powerful Optum Ladies set up camp on the front and did all the work, patiently nailing back the break over 5 laps.  The average speed was 26.2MPH, which for an hour long intense crit, racing on a course with 9 sharp turns.  Hannah only survived by spending 38 of the 60 minutes in Zone 5!  Hannah had made it to the last day, the Sunset Loop Road Race, the Queen stage with 68 miles and over 6,000 feet of climbing.  The big teams punched it from the whistle, averaging 22.4mph, yaaaa, 22.4mph with over 6,000 feet of climbing.  OUCH!   All Hannah could do was slide backwards all day long.  She would finish the stage in 65th place, which would move her up in GC to her final finishing place of 63rd.  As Hannah’s goal was simply to survive the time cuts, beating 53 of the 116 starters was far above and beyond our goal.  We are super proud of Hannah!  
 
April 5th, 2014 – Redlands 
Well, the first three days of Redlands are in the books and Hannah is still in the race.  Whoo-Hoo!  116 Women from 17 teams, 11 of which being either UCI World Tour or Domestic Elite squads, took the start in the first Pro NRC stage race of the season.  At age 17 (RA 18), Hannah is the youngest rider in the race and her only goal is to survive the daily time cuts.  Stage One, a 41 mile circuit with 3,000 feet of climbing, repeatedly assaulted a sustained 13% climb.  The Pro Women’s field averaged 22.8MPH in this very challenging circuit.  Hannah hung with the lead group for approximately half the race until a huge attack on the hill shattered the peloton.  Hannah would finish in 83rd place, 7:22 behind the race winner, Team Tibco’s Lauren Stevens.  Hannah was well inside the time cut.  Stage Two was the time trial, which took place up at a 7,000 foot elevation on a very technical and somewhat hilly course in a chilly 44 degrees.  Allison Powers, from United Healthcare, would destroy the next closest competitor by 35 seconds with her time of 16:22.  18:00 flat was only good for 33rd place.  Hannah’s 18:58 would be good for 74th place and move her up to 79th in GC.  Yesterday was the challenging Beaumont race, a 73 mile road race with 4,100 feet of climbing.  The UCI teams came to play yesterday, setting an extremely painful 23.4MPH pace, which chopped 14 riders out of the race.  Hannah hung with the leaders until mile 65, when Optum, Tibco, and Lulu went after United Healthcare’s lead, attacking Allison Powers with full force on the final climb, blowing Hannah out the back like a brick!  It was very powerful, and painful, to watch.  Leah Kirchmann from Optum won the stage and took over GC by 9 seconds.  Hannah would finish in 70th place, 3:37 behind Kichmann, which was just incredible given her race time of 3 hours and 8 minutes.  The result moved Hannah into 71st in GC, 13:15 back on 5:18:07 of racing.  SOC’s highest placed rider is Athena, who currently sits in 32nd place, 3:15 back.  Athena has been riding great!

Stage Four is today.  Having raced very hard against the Pros for 6 out of the last 8 days (Dimas then Redlands), Hannah’s body is pretty thrashed at this point.  Today is the Crit, which ironically will be the hardest of all the stages for Hannah.  The big leg power ladies will throw down today and they will punch it right from the whistle on this hilly and very technical 1 mile long crit course that has 9 turns!  Hannah’s thin legs simply cannot come close to the wattage that will be getting generated today by the Pros, but the race bible says that if Hannah can just stay attached for 40 of the 60 minutes, then she can start the final stage tomorrow. Pray for strength!
 
March 31th, 2014 – San Dimas Stage Race
San Dimas is officially in the books.  Wow!  What an experience.  105 Women ended up taking the start in this 3 day stage race filled with UCI Pros.  Stage one was a 4.2 mile TT that went straight up.  The 1,200 feet of climbing favored the pros who could park it super deep without blowing up and those who were super thin, pure climbers.  World Champion and Strive Mentor Amber Neben would take the yellow jersey with a 17:20.  Hannah, whose goal was 19:59, would struggle going deep enough and end up at a 21:01, which was only good for 66th.  Moriah would come in 99th and Rachel was two spots behind her in 101st.  The next day was the road race which got shortened down to 50 miles.  A huge wreck 15 minutes into the race would take out approximately 10 women.  The crash showed no favoritism, taking out pro riders like Janel Holcomb from Optum and Lex Albrecht from TWENTY16 and local riders like our Moriah, Sisterhood’s Athena, and Monster’s Em.  Hannah and Rachel avoided the crash, but had problems with the pace, which averaged 23MPH for the race, screaming fast given the 3,000 feet of climbing.  Rachel came unhitched from the leaders on lap one when the UCI pros lit it up on the big climb.  Hannah would hang with the leaders for almost half the race.  She finished in 41st place, averaging just under 22MPH.  Rachel would fight with everything she had, trying to beat the 10% time cut, which would turn out to be just over 13 minutes.  She finished the race in 76th place, two minutes outside of the time cut.  OUCH!  The 105 riders were now down to 68 and Hannah was the only Strive rider headed to the Crit.  Only one other Junior besides Hannah survived the time cut and made the Crit.  The Crit, just like last year was insane, but even faster this year.  Tibco, Optum, and Lulu, put the hammer down right from the whistle, laying down a 26.8MPH pace on this very technical and hilly Crit course, shelling 15 riders, including the other Junior out the back and into DNF land.  Last year, Hannah held on for 20 minutes and she was determined to make it to the end this year.  She stayed attached until they hit 5 to go, 36 minutes into the race.  Hannah and two other riders fought hard not to get lapped (and pulled) and they took the bell just as the three power-house teams launched into their final sprints less than 100m behind them.  They were safe!  They had made it!  Hannah would be the only Junior to finish this insane race.  They let off the gas and did their last lap, crossing the finish line with a feeling of incredible satisfaction.  Those feelings were crushed 1 hour later when we got the results and found out that they were sticking to a strict 5% time cut in the Crit, which ended up chopping Hannah out of the results by just a matter of seconds.  OUCH!  There were 44 official finishers out of the 105.  After all that work, Hannah, who ended up in 45th place is not listed in the results.  Iron sharpens iron.  She will only be stronger because of this.  She did outstanding!  Hannah has two days to recover before starting Redlands, a five day NRC race that is significantly harder than Dimas.  Pray for strength and the ability to beat the time cuts!
March 23th, 2014 – RR State Championships & Ontario 3
We began the weekend with the brutal Category State Championship Road Race, which was moved to a new course this year in Castaic.  The Women 1-3 race had a starting field of 31 and the Women 3-4 race had 35 starters.  Both races did the same tough course, which featured 5,500 feet of climbing in 55 miles.  All four girls did great and climbed hard.  The fields however were simply too tough to get any good results.  Sarah averaged 15.7MPH.  Moriah was 16.8MPH.  Rachel was 17.5MPH and Hannah was 19.1MPH, which was only good for 12th place in the Women 1-3.  The winner, Jessica Cerra, averaged 19.7MPH on this insane course. 
 
The next day, we did the Ontario Crit, which turned out to be a good recovery spin for the girls, as all four of them woke up to some very sore legs.  Due to a competing Crit, the fields were small and the speeds were slow.  The Women 1-3 race only averaged 22.8MPH, which is more like a slow Women’s 3-4 race.  Hannah was able to break away with two other riders (Holly and Alexa) and the break stuck.  With 5,500 feet of climbing in her legs from the day before, Hannah did not have much chance against the two sprinters at the end.  However, Hannah made a really good run of it, finishing less than a bike length behind the winner.  Hannah then easily won the 15-18 race and Sarah would just miss the win in the 10-14 race, taking 2nd for the third time by just 1/2 a bike length.  Luke faced and conquered his nasty crash site and then hung in the 10-12 boys for the second time this year.  He took 12th out of the 21 starters.  He is learning a great deal and having lots of fun.  All in all it was a great weekend of racing.   The next two weekends will be amazing with San Dimas and Redlands going down.  Each race has 110+ riders pre-registered.  Whoo-Hooo!
 
March 20th, 2014 – Redlands Update
It is with tremendous excitement that I get to announce that Hannah will join the Sisterhood of Cycling composite team for the Redlands Bicycle Classic.  Redlands, with 5 brutal stages, is one of the hardest NRC stage races on the pro calendar.  Thank you, Leah Rodarti, for giving Hannah this incredible opportunity.
 
March 15th & 16th, 2014 – Tuttle Creek Road Race and Velo Allegro Crit
Wow . . . what a great couple of weeks of racing.  Tour de Murrieta was a blast.  The field sizes were very encouraging, with 75 different Ladies showing up to race in Women 1-3.  The field included a number of Pros, 3 World Champions, and some strong NRC teams, sporting 8 riders, all of which made for some fast races, and even faster, finishes.  While Strive Racing did not crack the top 10 in any of the three stages, the girls all did great and had lots of fun.

This last weekend, we made the trek up to the Tuttle Creek Road Race, which took place on an incredibly scenic course above Lone Pine, right in front of the snowcapped Mt. Whitney range. The 33 mile road race, with 3,300 feet of climbing did 3 laps of an 11 mile circuit and wound through some awesome rock formations on perfect newly paved roads. There were only 9 Ladies in the Women’s race and 4 of them were from Strive.  On lap two Hannah attacked hard at the base of the climb and would stay away solo for two laps and win by 5 minutes.  Rachel attacked in the same spot on the last lap and finished 1 minute ahead of third.  Sarah and another rider had been dropped, so that left Moriah and 4 other Ladies to fight for 3rd.  Moriah drilled the last climb, leaving all behind her but one, and then she out sprinted her at the line to take 3rd.  It was a small field, but Strive took 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 8th.   It was a super fun day of racing in a surreal environment.  Luke also raced, competing against a handful of older, larger boys, who all did 22 miles with 2300 feet of climbing.  He would finish 5th out of the 6 boys in the race.  This was Luke’s first race since his crash and it was the perfect race for him to get back in the saddle.

The next day we raced the St. Patrick’s Day Crit, which was a ton of fun.  Both the Women 3-4 and Women 1-3 races sported about 40 Ladies at the start.  Woman 3-4 was fast (for a 3-4) at 23.7 MPH.  Riley Nguyen was first into the last corner and then held a very long sprint to take the win.  Moriah finished in 10th and Sarah in 20th.  The Woman 1-3 was pretty fast as well at 24.5 MPH.  Jessica Cerra, who has been on an absolute charge lately, started her sprint between corners 3 and 4 with 350m to go!  Seriously?  Yup, and she not only held it, but won by over 10 bike lengths.  The girl is sooooo strong!  Hannah took 9th.  The highlight of the day was when Rachel asked me to go get her a number for the Cat 3 Men.  Rachel, who had raced hard the day before up in Lone Pine, had never hung till the end in a Men’s Cat 3 race.  This year, she had only made it 14 minutes when racing with the Men.  Amazingly, Rachel hung for the entire race in the field of 68 fast men who averaged 27.0MPH!  This was a new record average speed for Rachel.  We were all super stoked for her.  Way to go Rach!
 
March 5, 2014 – Hannah's College Announcement
It is with great excitement that I finally get to report where Hannah will be attending College this fall.  Last week Hannah and I signed a very nice contract to ride for and attend Milligan College.  Milligan is a small Christian Liberal Art school located in the mountains of Northeastern Tennessee.  Yes, Hannah will be going far, far away : ^ (
 
Hannah, who has a 4.2 GPA, was accepted at a number of top California Universities.  In addition, Hannah received cycling scholarship offers from 7 different cycling schools. She chose Milligan because of its conservative values, small school size (1,200 students), beautiful location, academic reputation and graduation rate, and growing cycling program.  She is very excited!

March 2, 2014 – Valley of Fire Stage Race and CBR
Form!  It has been spotted!  Whoo-Hoo!  Each year when we take our long break from cycling (2-3 months) , I fear that form is lost forever.  While I know that it should eventually return, the girls are always terribly slow and uncompetitive when we start riding again. Even though we go through this each year, it never ceases to amaze me how three months of structured training bring forth competitive form in just a matter of weeks at the end of the quarter.  Through the down pouring rain of the first stage at VOF, a very hilly and technical TT, form showed itself for the first time this year, as Rachel shaved 20 seconds off her time from last year and Hannah shaved over a minute!  That said, Hannah's time of 16:24 was only good for 11th in this very competitive Women's 1-3 field.  Pro rider Anna Sanders was in first place with a 15:05 and World Champion Julie Cutts was in second with a 15:11. Stage 2 was a sketchy crit with no curbs and exposed gravel on every corner!  The speed was solid at 24.5mph. 30 minutes in, Hannah shot off the front and tried to get away.  She was marked by DNA, a strong NRC team who had seven riders in race.  The two of them got a good gap, but unfortunately the DNA rider was sent to just sit on Hannah and would not pull through.  DNA wanted their lead out train at the end.  Sure enough it came down to the final sprint, where Hannah took a solid 4th place behind Julie, DNA's top rider, and Anna. The final stage, a 64 mile road race with 3600 feet of climbing, was epic.  The average speed was good at 20.4 mph and at mile 45 the fireworks began. Anna Sanders attacked and carved off an elite group of ten riders that included Hannah.  Fifteen minutes later Anna would attack again, this time harder and no one could hold her wheel.  Hannah made the 6 person chase group along with race leader Julie Cutts. The 6 of them tried hard to reel in Anna, but she survived solo to take the stage win and overall victory.  Hannah did not contest the final sprint and finished in 6th on the stage, 33 seconds behind Anna.  Rachel had a great day as well, also averaging over 20 mph, finishing 4 minutes behind Hannah in 15th.  As a result of the competitive TT, Hannah would only take 7th in GC, but it was an epic race!

While the three of us hung out in NV, Mama-Swan headed up to CBR with Momo and Sojo.  30 ladies took the start in the Women’s 3-4.  Moriah rode very aggressive, hunting down breaks and making one of her own.  Unfortunately, as a result of her aggressive riding, she blew up on the last lap a hundred meters before the finish line, and dropped from 2nd to 9th as her body said, “I’m Done!”.  The highlight of the race was Sarah, who recorded her first Women's 3-4 top five finish, and at age twelve!  She came into the hill 10th, and exploded all the way to the line missing 4th place by less than a wheel.  Sarah's speed has been on a meteoric rise over the last three weeks.  She has been training harder than anyone on the team and it has been paying off.  March is here and so is Form!  Whoo-Hoo!

 
February 22nd & 23rd, 2014 – Nine Mile Omnium and Ontario #2
What an awesome weekend of racing!  Finally, after two months of base building and attempting to shed the off-season, tiny glimmers of form are starting to appear.  The glimmers are appearing just in time, as the girls were starting to get a little discouraged with all of their mediocre results.

We began with the Nine Mile Omnium, which had a 16 mile TT and an 18 mile road race, all in the same day.  The interesting part was that the courses were flipped in elevation gain, so that the TT had 5,200 feet of climbing and the road race was essentially flat?!?!  The Women’s field only consisted of 9 ladies and 4 of them were from Strive Racing.  In stage one all five kids climbed really well, but Sarah simply climbed out of her skin, logging well over an hour of Zone 5 and posting the same time as Moriah.  Hannah, the fastest Swan up the climb by almost 20 minutes, was only in 3rd place after the hill climb TT stage and she needed to win the afternoon road race to have a chance at winning the Omnium.  The road race was an 18 mile out n back, with the Out being into a head wind, and the Back having a tail.  It was the perfect conditions to test Hannah’s legs.  Hannah made sure she was first into the turn-around cone and then she exploded out of it, gapping the field.  Her 9 mile solo TT was on!  Her sisters blocked and covered attempts to bridge up to Hannah.  It was a hard 20 minutes, but Hannah made it, beating the field by about 30 seconds.  However, Rachel and Moriah still had to take 2nd and 3rd in the field sprint for Hannah to get the Omnium win, which they did in convincing fashion.  While the field was small, the race was an absolute blast and team tactics played out perfectly, giving Hannah the win.

The next morning we did the Ontario Crit.  Unfortunately, Luke took a really bad crash in the 10-12 race.  The field was drilling it down the small drop toward the start finish, and then the boys on the front stopped pedaling, which the junior boys are notorious for.  Luke needed more than a feathering of the brakes to slow him down.  He tire rubbed the rider in front of him and was slammed into the asphalt, face first.  The whole right side of his little body is pretty carved up, including his face which has 3 good size road rash holes in it, but thank God he did not break a collar bone.  Ironically, both of his collar bone bumps on his upper chest had the skin taken off them, but his face, and cracked helmet, took enough of the slam to keep his collar bones in tacked.   The crash was 100% Luke’s fault.  Junior boys, especially the young ones, will always be very surgie and Luke needs to learn how to deal with the speed fluctuations without touching wheels with the rider in front of him.  After patching Luke up, all four girls took the start in the Women’s combo W1-3 and W3-4 race, which are raced together and scored separately.  About 40 Ladies took the start.  The pace was decent at 24.5MPH.  Both Moriah and Sarah had been getting dropped by this same field earlier this year and at slower speeds.  Actually, Sarah had never even hung with the Cat 1’s, ever.  In her first race with them this year, she got lapped 4 times at 23.3MPH.  In her second race with them she got lapped twice at 23.6MPH.  Yesterday, she hung for the entire race at 24.5MPH.  Yup, 12 years old, Cat 4, after a brutal TT climb and road race the day before, hung with the Cat 1’s for the first time.  Whoo-Hooo!  We were so stoked for Sarah, who has been working really hard this year and is definitely getting faster.  Sarah was in Zone Five (90%+ of max HR) for the entire race and finished the weekend with over two hours of Zone Five time.  Wow!  What an animal!  That is some serious pain tolerance.  Moriah, who has also been trying to find her form this year not only hung, but took 12th over-all out of the 40 starters, and 5th in the Cat 3-4s.  Hannah, after her brutal hill climb and solo TT the day the day before, rode aggressively in a crit for the first time this season, riding up front, helping hunt down breaks, and then working hard in one of her own breaks, which of course got caught.  But after all that work, she still finished 5th over-all.  Rachel took 8th in the W1-3.  It was a great race and everyone felt really good about their performances.  Please keep Luke in your prayers.  He is pretty banged up and will be in a lot of pain for a couple of weeks.

February 16th, 2014 – Last Three Weeks
Wow.  What a wild few of weeks of racing.  Boulevard was just as gnarly as ever!  The girls started racing in 33 degrees and when Rachel crossed the finish line after 68 miles and 6,000 feet of climbing, it was actually snowing on her!  Poor Moriah flatted out in the middle of nowhere.  With no follow vehicle she froze until I finally found her on the side of the road 18 miles from the start.  The next day, the Red Trolley W1-4 saw the largest starting field of Women I have seen in a really long time, which was around 75 ladies.  It was awesome.  Unfortunately, Hannah flatted with 5 to go.  Yup!  Free lap until 5 to go.  The ref looked at Hannah and said, “You should have been here 1 lap ago!”  Two flats in two days?  Seriously?  We had gone over two years without a single flat in our races.

Then came the Roger Millikan Crit, where Luke hung with the 10-12 boys for the first time until the final sprint.  He was so stoked.  The Women’s races were chaos once again as the promoter scheduled them to run at the same time as Masters Men races, and there were more Women out there than men!  For the first time, Women were being denied race numbers because the races were full!  Both finishes were very confusing and there were lots of upset Ladies to say the least.

This last weekend we did both the UCLA RR and the CBR Crit.  Both races were really good training and a lot of fun.  As a result of our long off-season, the remblance of form, or even the ability to go hard for any period of time, is probably still a month away.  So, our results have been horrible and will probably remain that way for a little while longer as we continue to build a solid foundation.  We are being patient and not rushing things.  That said, progress is being made.  Hannah and Rachel raced the Cat 3 Men at CBR, which saw a starting field of 80 and an average speed of 27.0MPH.  Rachel hung on for 14 minutes before getting blown out the back.  Hannah hung in there for the entire hour and then finished in 50th.  Unfortunately, after 5,000 feet of climbing the day before at UCLA, and then the fast Cat 3 race, she was totally cooked for the Women’s race, which was a 1-4 with a starting field of 53 ladies.  Joy McCulloch came around corner four 2nd wheel and then just lit up the final sprint, pulling away from Meg, Suzanne, and Colleen to take the win.  It was very impressive.  Great job Joy!  The other bit of great news is that Chris Lotts is giving the Women 3-4 back their own race, starting March 2nd!  It is very cool to see a race promoter responding to the growing woman’s fields.  Thank you Chris!
 
January 25th & 26th, 2014 – Poor College Kids RR, WCA Ride, and Mothballs
This past weekend we made the trek up north to tackle Poor College Kids and Mothballs. In the midst of an already fun weekend, we decided to squeeze in the Women’s Cycling Association (WCA) Lulu Lemon Group Ride which sat right between the two races on Sunday morning in San Luis Obispo. It was an awesome weekend and the racing and ride with Lulu Lemon were both great fun. We began with PCK with 33 women taking the start in Women’s 3-4. Unfortunately, Alison and Athena have yet to receive their cat 2 upgrades, so the outcome was known before the starting whistle blew. On the first lap the field was cut down to 18 riders on the hill. Given how out of shape our team is I was amazed that Moriah made this initial selection. Sarah was in the first chase group. One lap 2, Alison and Athena easily cycled away from the group of 18 to take first and second leaving a 16 person field sprint. I was amazed again when Moriah took 4th in the field sprint. Moriah 6th and Sarah 21st. As Hannah was taking the SAT (good girl) Rachel was the only Strive Racing rider in the Women’s 1-3 race. After lots of confusion and intermixing with multiple men’s fields, the women finally got isolated. Unfortunately, a little bit of “argy-bargy” at the front, ended up in a bar hook for the uninvolved Suzanne Sonye who went down, right in front of Rachel. Rachel could not avoid her and was slammed to the pavement at 25 mph. Suzanne, Rachel, and four others decided to call it a day at that point as the group was gone. As Rachel cracked her helmet in the wreck we took her to a doctor for a concussion test just to be safe. She was cleared.
 
The next morning Team Strive served at registration for the WCA ride and then joined Carmen Small, Taylor Wiles, and Evelyn Stevens along with the rest of the Lulu Lemon team on a super fun ride through San Luis Obispo. From there we headed down to Goleta where Luke tackled his second Jr race. It was another great experience for Luke and he is learning a lot. At 3pm, the Women’s 1-3 lined up 28 ladies at the starting line, 13 of whom were either from Monster Media or La Grange. So when PC (Monster Media) and Lisa Cambell (La Grange) got away 25 minutes into the race, 11 riders formed a wall at the front, ensuring those two would survive (which they did). The remaining Monster Media lead-out train was set up for Shelby as an injured Suzanne just sat in. Michelle and Emily delivered Shelby perfectly and Shelby launched with 200 meters to go. However, Cat 1 rider Colleen Gulick from PA was glued to Shelby’s back wheel. Colleen swung with a 100 meters to go and edged out Shelby for 3rd. Hannah 6th, Moriah 24th, and mangled Rachel 26th and sore. The pace was fairly fast at 24.2 mph. Tiny glimmers of form are starting to appear. Looking forward to the Boulevard RR and Red Trolley next weekend!

January 12th, 2014 - Ontario #1
The Ontario Ice Breaker Crit was a lot of fun.  It was far warmer than last year’s 28 degrees and we got to see all our old racing friends.  As previously mentioned, the team has yet to begin any real training after taking a 2.5 solid month’s off the bike.  Thus, form simply does not exist, . . . . at all!  Average heart rates were very high, despite low average speeds, and final sprint numbers were just atrocious, as were the results.  Which is all OK.  It was really cool to see everyone again and just hang out.  The girls just love to race, even when their form is not competitive.  In addition, 9 year old Luke made it through his first Junior Boys 10-12 race alive, which is great news.  With the three Mitchel brothers returning to this division, it did not take long for Luke to get shot out the back, which was a good thing for him.  He still had a lot of fun and he is determined to hang a little bit longer at the next race.

January 4th, 2014 – Boulevard Road Race Base Building
Welcome to another year of the Strive Racing Team Blog!  Many of you know that the team took off the last 2.5 months.  When I say off, I mean completely off.  No training, no diet, no bikes……just normal kid life!  The girls lost their cut physics and got slow.  There is no doubt that the first two months of racing will be filled with some tough results, but the form will eventually return.  Our time off the bike was awesome and very refreshing.  We started our base building a few weeks ago, and decided to try and tackle the Boulevard Road Race today, but at a snail’s pace.

The 67 mile ride with 6,000 feet of climbing could not have gone any better!  We started the ride in 52 degrees and ended it in 62 degrees.  Better yet, we had zero wind for the whole ride in a place that is normally blowing very hard with icy cold winds.  We could not believe we were on the Boulevard course in those conditions!  You would never have guessed we were riding at a 4,000 foot elevation in January.  It was absolutely glorious and we all had a blast!  If only the real race, a mere four weeks away, could be as nice as it was today!