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2015 Strive Racing Team's Numbers: 
2015 Events: 32
2015 Wins: 35
2015 Podiums: 107
Rachel's Cat 1 Upgrade Points:  3 (Needs 35)
Moriah's Cat 2 Upgrade Points:  32 (Needs 30)
Sarah's Cat 2 Upgrade Points:  34 (Needs 30)
 
October 4th, 2015 - The Pine Creek Challenge
Wow! What an epic Pine Creek Challenge to finish off an awesome season. Last year, our 27 PCC RSVPs, turned into a field of 16, simply because the weather man forecasted extreme heat. This year, our 41 RSVPs turned into a field of 19, simply because the weather man forecasted extreme cold and rain. Last year, the weather man was wrong, and we had the highest finishing percentage ever at 75% in near perfect conditions. This year, unfortunately he was right, and we had the lowest finishing percentage ever at just 37%. Only 7 of the 19 starters finished all 101 miles and 10,300 feet of climbing, in weather conditions that deteriorated as the ride progressed, culminating in freezing rain and wind that proved to be the ultimate test of determination.

The start of the ride was quite pleasant. 60 degrees and very light winds. When the crew hit the 20% grades of Pine Creek, everyone started shedding layers. It was quite comical, as my front seat was piled high with over 20 pieces of clothing. Despite the perfect conditions, the brutal Pine Creek climb with it’s sustained grades had claimed the first 2 DNF victims.

By the time the riders arrived at the first aid station on top of Mt. Laguna, it was a nippy 48 degrees and there was a stinging 8 mph wind. With 3,500 feet of climbing already done and metabolic processes starting to search for protein, the chill quickly intensified within the riders, so we tried to get them out of there quickly. I yelled, “Gear up and get out!” All shed clothing went back on, and the riders grabbed some SAG before heading off to tackle the 33 mile Kitchen Creek leg. After the 17 mile decent, the base of Kitchen turned out to be beautiful, and just perfect for climbing. Overcast skies and a temperature of 65 degrees, once again, caused almost everyone to strip down to shorts and a jersey. The highlight of the climb was a tarantula the size of Moriah’s hand (see photo).

By the time the riders reached the top of Kitchen Creek at mile 55, the skies were growing very dark, and the temperature had plummeted back down into the low 50’s. With the riders having now accumulated 7,000 feet of hard climbing in their legs, and with a light rain beginning to fall, the bailout option was calling hard. A number of the riders were cooked, heard the plea, and called it a day. It turned out to be a very wise decision, as things were about to get ugly. Kitchen Creek had claimed an additional 5 DNFs, including 1 by mechanical.

By the time the riders reached Aid Station number 3 back on top of Mt. Laguna, it felt like Camp 3 at Everest! The riders were now caloric deficient and with temps back in the upper 40’s, and winds gusting to 20 MPH, the wind chill dropped into the 30’s. The remaining 12 riders needed to get off the mountain and down to warmer temps fast, so they quickly grabbed some food, put on every piece of clothing they could find, and headed down Sunrise HWY north to tackle the chilly 25 mile decent to the bottom of Engineers Rd.

This blustery decent would turn out to be almost as hard as the climbs, as the winds intensified. 25MPH cross wind gusts blew the riders all over the road, and two of them, literally right off the road! Thankfully, nobody was injured. As the weary riders turned onto HWY 79, the vile crosswind became a painful headwind, and the riders had to fight their way across the flats to get to Engineers Rd. Unfortunately, there was a storm waiting for them there, and before long, it was dumping ice cold rain. The 25 mile decent to the bottom of Engineers Rd. claimed 4 more DNF victims.

The final climb up Engineers Rd. was a true test of resolve. Pelting rain, icy winds, and blinding fog made the 50 degree temperature feel like 30 (see photo of Sarah). The remaining 8 riders, who now had 9,500 feet of climbing in their legs, simply could not get their exhausted, wet bodies to generate heat, despite the sustained 13% finish at the top of Engineers. That top out is painful when you are fresh and it’s a beautiful day! This day is was pure suffering, but all 8 riders made it up and topped out. At the Lake Cuyamaca store, Aid Station 5, everyone was wet and shivering. We then lost our final DNF.

While the remaining 7 riders were soaked, and frozen to the core, they were also determined to finish the final 15 miles and 500 feet of climbing that remained. So we found as many dry clothes as we could find for them, forced them to eat some food and drink some caffeine, and sent them off for the dangerous decent down HYW 79. With skinny two way traffic, no bike lanes, steep hairpin turns, and down pouring rain, we prayed for their safety and resolve. 45 minutes later, those 7 champions, totally depleted, soaked, and chilled to the bone, pedaled across the finish line to loud cheers and cowbells.

They had made it, finishing the hardest Pine Creek Challenge to date. Hot coffees, and warm homemade Chili, with all the decadent fixings, were waiting for them, under the safety of the easy ups, along with lots of hugs and encouragements. These 7 conquerors showed amazing perseverance and determination, striving hard to the very end. Here is the list of finishers.

1. Shannon Castle
2. Renee Robinson
3. Moriah Swan
4. Sarah Swan
5. Chris Wyman
6. Ryan Oelrich
7. Luke Swan
Final Statistics:
 Total Riders: 19
 Total Men: 12 (3 of whom finished – 25%)
 Total Women: 7 (4 of whom finished – 57%)
 Total Juniors: 7 (3 of whom finished – 43%)
 Total DNFs: 12 (63% of the starters)
 Total Finishers: 7 (37% of the starters)

Over the last five years, the PCC has developed its own mini-culture of close comradery. I get great pleasure out of watching this transformation take place each year. The diverse 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 the suffering intensifies. Each time the riders reunite at an aid station after putting a few more thousand feet of climbing into their legs, more barriers come down, and you can see the riders growing closer
 
The bonding culminates in the parking lot, during the post ride feast, and people who were strangers in the morning, now act like best friends. It is priceless for me. Despite the extreme exhaustion, there is always a ton of positive energy, lots of laughter, big smiles, and long, sincere good-bye hugs before people hop in their cars. It is so cool. Not something you see after your “overly-competitive” local crit. 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 and experience it for yourself firsthand. Strive On!
  
August 30th, 2015 - CBR - Last Race of the Season
Wow!  What a fun last race of the season. 
 
With the team having ceased all intensity training a month ago in exchange for our endurance training (speed destroyer!), and with 9,300 feet of climbing in their legs from Tuesday's 88 mile training ride, I knew the kids did not have their “racing legs” on.  They had their “sore, slow legs” on.  However, we could not miss the last race of the season, especially a CBR.  In addition, we had already decided to let Luke try his first Cat 4 race this day.  He is still only 10 years old, but with 112 races now under his belt, we figured it was time to throw him in with the big boys and see if he could swim.
 
The Cat 4 race was our first race of the day and Sarah and Mo, both knowing they could not hang given their current form, still decided to join Luke on the starting line for moral support.  In 92 degrees, the 69 riders, which is over two times bigger than Luke's previous largest field, hit it hard right from the whistle.  The brutal 26.4 MPH pace, which was more like a Men's Cat 3 speed, shot Moriah out the back after 14 minutes of deep red zone.  Two minutes later, Sarah was shot out the back, with similar red zone data.  With over 25 minutes still remaining, I knew Luke was the next victim.
 
I was wrong!   Once again, Luke blew my mind, hanging all the way through the final sprint, finishing in 60th place.  It was the greatest 60th place I've ever seen.  The 26.4mph average speed shattered his previous PR by 2.2mph and just nipped Sarah’s record of 26.3MPH.  While Hannah and Rachel both still hold the team record at 27.1MPH from Men Cat 3 races, there is no doubt Luke will eventually beat that record in the years to come.  Luke had an absolute blast in the race, and he received a ton of positive encouragements from lots of other Cat 4 riders, both during and after the race.  It was really cool, and by far, the highlight of the day.
 
Our second race of the day was the Women Cat 3-4 race.  28 Ladies took the start.  The race was slow and uneventful and came down to the final sprint.  Sarah and Mo came into the final corner in perfect position in 3rd and 4th, behind Tessa Riley (1st) and Catherine Ortiz (2nd), and despite their current form, I was hopeful for 1 more win on the season.  Unfortunately, Catherine either clipped a pedal or just slid out half way through the final corner.  After some serious tank swaps, she miraculously saved it without going down or taking anyone else out, but Moriah, Sarah and a few other Ladies all had to break hard and bail left and right, losing their speed to not get hit by the tank swaps.  Moriah got pushed all the way out to the curb.  Tessa, who was just in front of Catherine when she slid, ended up winning the race by 20+ bike lengths.  The riders, who were just a little bit further back, were able to get around the chaos without scrubbing their speed and they all came blowing by.  Sarah 10th and Mo 12th.  Oh well, that’s racing.  I am just thankful nobody went down.
 
Our last race of the day was the Women 1-3, which saw a mere 21 Ladies take the start.  Given how much money was on the line here, it is a shame that more ladies did not show up.  On their 3rd race of the day, with 9,300 feet of climbing and 15 minutes of red zone from the Men’s race both screaming from the legs, the $100 cash prime accelerations every other lap proved to be too much for Mo and Sarah.  Mo sat up and pulled out 30 minutes into the race.  Sarah hung till the end, but was also too cooked to finish strong, ending up in 15th.  The highlight of the race was when Esther Walker shot off solo with 15 minutes to go in the race.  Not only did she hold off the entire peloton solo, she did so when there was $100 cash prime on the line every other lap!  Esther was amazing and she cleaned house, winning a ton of cash.  Very cool.  She deserved every penny.
 
With the traditional Everest Challenge route officially cancelled for this year (Nooooooo!), our racing season is now over.   So sad.  We raced less this year and with fewer riders, but the year was still very successful for Strive Racing, as we recorded our highest wins per event ratio ever at 109%, and our highest podium ratio at 306%.  Luke set a ton of new PRs, including 14 wins on the season, which is not easy to do on the boy’s side.  Hannah still holds the Team Record (TR) at 20 wins in a season.  Sarah, in 20 less races than she did last year, tied her PR on wins with 8, and beat her PR on podiums with a staggering 47 podiums! The painful part about those podiums was that 26 of them were 2nd place.  That is a TR that will never be broken.  Can you imagine finishing in 2nd place 26 times in one year?  Without Libby Painter, Megan Jastrab, and a couple of other very talented women, Sarah would have shattered Hannah’s 20 win record.  Her 47 podiums just clipped the team record, which was previously held by Hannah at 46, ironically on the exact same number of races.  Sarah also moved into 1st on the team for total podiums with a 139.  She is now ahead of all her siblings on podiums and she still has 4 years left!  Here are the year-end final team results:
 
Events:  32
Wins:  35  (14 by Luke)
Podiums:  107  (47 by Sarah)
 
This was the 4th year in a row that Strive Racing topped the 30 wins and 100 podiums mark.  This year would not have been possible without the amazing and very generous support of our sponsors.  Thank you to HED wheels, Hammer Nutrition, Halo Headbands, Holland Cycles, Amber Neben’s Dare to Be Project, San Diego Hand Specialists, and G3 Tapes.  We are very thankful for all of you.  Strive On!
 
August 16th, 2015 - Hotter than Hell Hill Climb and Ontario #7
Brutal weekend of racing.  We began with the Mt. Baldy Hotter than Hell Hill climb.  The name did not disappoint as temps went over 100 degrees for the 12 mile Time Trial with 4,400 feet of climbing.  It was painful to watch.  With the intense heat, Sarah only beat her best time by 1 minute, posting a 1:43.  Moriah was 3 minutes slower than her fastest time with a 1:41.  However, Luke beat his fastest time by 11 minutes, posting a 1:30 to take the win in 13-14 by 6 minutes, and beat his sisters by 11 and 13 minutes.  Yaaaaa, Luke is going to be a climber for sure!

All three kids logged tons of Zone 5 time at Baldy and they were cooked heading into Ontario.  Ontario was fun, but very hot again.  Baldy left the kids with nothing left in their legs for final sprints.  We ended up with three 2nd places and no wins today.  Luke did pretty good in his 2nd race of the day, finishing 8th out of the 16 riders in a hard 13-14 race.  

Ontario was the last race of the SCNCA SoCal Cup series for the year for the juniors.  In the 9-12 division, Luke finished 1st out of the 26 riders who scored points.  He also finished 12th out of the 31 riders in 13-14.  Rachel, who despite not even racing today, easily finished 1st out of the 15 riders in 15-18 who scored points.  Sarah finished 2nd and Moriah finished 3rd for a Strive Podium Sweep of 15-18.  In Women 10-14, Sarah finished 2nd as well out of 19 riders, but took 1st out of the 92 riders in Women 3-4.  Moriah finished 6th in Women 3-4.   Rachel, who battled mono much of the season, fell from 3rd last year, to 15th out of the 88 women who scored points this year in W1-3.  
 
Over-all, Strive Racing finished the season in 3rd place out of the 250 teams in Southern California.  It was another good season. 
 
August 2nd, 2015 - Brentwood Grand Prix
With very tender legs from the Everest Challenge Training ride (entry below this one), where the kids climbed 6600 feet in temps over 100 degrees, we went to Brentwood without much expectation.  However, when we saw that the fields were light in the W9-14/M9-12 race and that both Sarah’s and Luke’s normal competition was off dong track NATs, we could not pass up the opportunity to attack the 10 person field.  10 minutes into the race, Sarah and Luke shot off the front in an effort to get away.  It took a few red zone pulls each, but eventually the two of them started opening it up on the rest of the field.  They would each take the win by over a minute.  It was really fun to watch them come across the finish line alone, side by side, arms raised. 
 
Unfortunately, that 20 minute TT effort took every last bit of juice each of them had left in their already sore legs, but Sarah had to go back to back with no break, and her next race, was the Women’s Cat 3/4 State Championship.  During the super-fast number switch, Sarah said, “Dad my legs are so shot from all that climbing.”  I said, “Have fun and do the best you can.”  The Women’s race was hard, with tons of team tactics and lap-card heroics that made the finish just brutal.  Sarah hung on for 6th and Mo sat up to take 20th out of the 30 ladies.  It was a very exciting race to watch.  Ester Walker was just crazy strong and took the win over Megan Jones.
 
Our last race of the day was the 13-14M/15-18W race, and unfortunately, Strive had the only three ladies in the race.  This would normally mean help Luke get a good 13-14 result, but Luke’s legs were cooked from the climbing ride and first race TT.  But then Oz Mora and Erik Castillo punched it full gas right from the whistle.  I knew we were in trouble.  Sarah, Mo, and over half of the 13-14 boys were instantly shelled.  Rachel who was also caught off guard hooked up with four boys including Luke in the first chase group.  Everyone else was gone.  The lead group kept it down full throttle for the first 15 minutes, opening up the gap on the chase group to about 20 seconds.  I knew we were running out of time.  So at that point, I yelled to Rachel and Luke, “you gotta get across now!”  Rachel then went to the front and just sacrificially buried herself for an entire lap, chopping the lead down from 20 seconds to just 5, before she completely exploded, unfortunately, she shelled everyone else except Luke and one other guy, while taking herself out as well.  It took Luke and this other guy two more laps to finally shut down the remaining gap and rejoin the leaders.  They finally made it across.  It cracks me up, because it was so fun to watch and cheer for this mini race within the race, off the back, that virtually nobody else even knew was happening.  More attacks followed from the lead group, but Luke was not getting dropped again.  He hung until just 100 meters to go when the 14 year old big boys punched it.  Oz led it out and Erik swung just a millisecond too late, losing to Oz by just 2 inches.  It was a great day of racing and Strive hit both the 30 win and 100 podium mark today for the fourth year in a row. 
 
July 30th, 2015 - Everest Challenge Training Ride
Long before we started racing bikes, the Swan family did endurance cycling.  No intensity, just Zone 2-4, long, “smell the roses” rides, with an affinity toward climbing big beautiful mountains.  Topping 10,000 feet of climbing in a day was a common occurrence, and we usually planned 2-3 epic endurance fun-ride events each year.  We did events like The Death Ride, The Everest Challenge, AdventureCorps rides, and the hardest centuries we could find.  Moriah, Hannah, and I even did The Death Valley Double Century one year, with 201 miles and 9,000 feet of climbing.  There is something special and rewarding about spending 6-10 hours on the bike in breathtaking venues at high elevations.  Unfortunately, over the last 6 years, the “need for speed” racing agenda slowly stripped away this “soul cycling” out of our calendar, and last year, the Pine Creek Challenge, was the only ride we did over 100 miles.  So sad, but true.
 
Thus, with The Everest Challenge once again on our calendar this year, I was pretty excited to be returning to the “long ride.”  With 29,000 feet of climbing in 36 hours, EC requires a lot of long distance training.  EC is now only 8 weeks away and to stay on track with our training, this week we did a 70 mile ride with 6,600 feet of steep climbing.  Little did we know that our challenging ride would turn into one of those epic adventure classics, with very powerful weather, breathtaking panoramas, and a “fear of God finish,” that brought back many memories of past adventures.
 
Only those familiar with San Diego’s east county mountains will truly appreciate the route, which went like this:  Start and finish at the Mt. Laguna store, 6,000 feet above sea level.  Descend Sunrise HWY south, go through Pine Valley, up Pine Creek (20%+ grades), turn left on Sunrise HWY to descend Mt. Laguna, turn right on HWY 79 and go out to Julian, down through Pine Hills and Boulder Creek, then climb back up Engineers Rd (13% grades), quick stop at the Lake Cuyamaca Store for some Mt. Dew, and then climb all the way back up Mt. Laguna via Sunrise HWY North. With triple digit temps and severe thunder storms forecasted, we tried to get an early start, but sure enough, by the time we hit the 22% grades on Pine Creek it was 100 degrees and dead air.  Knowing we still had 6,000 feet of climbing still to go, we did our best to stay out of Zone 5 and crawl up this brutal climb.  It was fascinating to watch the skies change so quickly around us.  You can see for over 30 miles up on Mt. Laguna and we could see the lightning and thundershowers off in the distance slowly moving toward Mt. Laguna.  The humidity was over 95% which prevented the sweat from drying on us and pretty soon we were all soaked, slogging our way up this brutal climb in oppressive heat.  It was very refreshing to finally finish the climb and start the decent toward Julian.
 
After a quick water stop in Julian, we descended down through Pine Hills to the bottom of Engineers Rd.  As we started this normally epic climb, the temperature hit 105 degrees and the humidity hit 100%, as the approaching storm moved closer.  However, it still did not block the sun, making this climb even harder than Pine Creek.  Knowing we still had to climb Sunrise HWY north up Mt. Laguna, we did our best to keep the pace down, but felt that we were quickly running out of time.  Grabbing some much needed calories and caffeine at the Lake Cuyamaca store, we could see the thunderheads moving closer and closer to Mt. Laguna, with the sky looking both powerful and ominous.  As we began our final climb straight back into the approaching storm, we knew it was going to be very close as to if we could finish in time.  We could see the torrential downpour in the near distance.  Scorching heat and unbearable humidity was quickly replaced by darkness, as incredible cloud formations powerfully exploded directly in front of us.  We stared at blankets of violent downpours just miles in front of us.  My iPhone continued to do emergency squeals with “Flash Flood Warning In Your Area!”  The temperature plummeted 40 degrees in just 30 minutes, going from 105 down to 65, as violent wind gusts starting blowing us all over the road.  We watched spectacular five finger lightning bolts light up the sky all around us with defending thunder which quickly became simultaneous with the lighting.  With just 1 mile left in our 70 mile adventure, rain drops the size of quarters started painfully pelting our skin.  As we pulled up to the car and quickly dove for cover, the violent, deafening, downpour hit its full fury, as the sky unleashed its rage.  The mountain began to flash flood all around us and the rain turned into a pelting hail.  Blinding lightening and simultaneous deafening thunder shook the car, as we sat in the “semi” safety of my truck, wet, silent, and in awe, thanking God that after hours of incredible cycling, we were spared nature’s violent wrath by literally less than a minute.  It was an amazing experience that Sarah, Luke and I will never forget.  Strive On.
 
July 20th, 2015 - Carlsbad Grand Prix
Well, it’s official.  Strive Racing has switched to endurance mode in preparation for The Everest Challenge.  After three consecutive, successful years of rising up to conquer the Everest Challenge, with 5 finishers in 5 attempts, we finally took last year off.  The training required to climb 29,000 feet in a 30 hour period is just insane, and after last year’s very long season, we needed a break.  However, this year the kids want to return to EC and tackle the hardest two day stage race in America.  With only 9 weeks left to train, it is time to say goodbye to the intensity (and speed), and re-find both our endurance and climbing legs.  It is very easy to get injured ramping up to 15,000 feet of climbing in one day, and it has to be done just right to avoid knee injuries.  So, for the most part, it’s time to “pace down” and endurance up.  Thus, while we still plan on doing a few more races, we are now in the “race-to-train” mode.  To that end, at Carlsbad, we signed Luke, Moriah, and Sarah up for 4 races each to see where they are at on their endurance.  Hard day, but nowhere near as hard or painful as EC.  Rachel, who leaves for College in 3 weeks, and cannot do EC, was signed up for 3 races.  

10 year old Luke’s day went in this order, back to back to back to back, without a single race in-between:  15-16, 9-12, 17-18, 13-14.  No rest for the weary!   As expected and instructed, he got dropped in 15-16 and 17-18, however he still beat a few riders.  In the 9-12 race, he took the win in an awesome final sprint battle with Tyler and Evan.  It was his 12th win of the season.  In his final race, the 13-14 boys, he hung with the leaders until the final sprint, but was just too cooked after 2 hours of consecutive Crit racing to throw down.  He finished 7th.  4 consecutive races was a great test of Luke’s resolve, and he passed with flying colors.  While there is a huge difference between 2 hours of Crit riding and 15 hours of climbing, I believe he has the determination to get there over the next 9 weeks.  

Moriah’s four races were the hardest of the day.  She went in this order: 15-16 boys, 15-18 girls, W3-4, then W1-3.  2.5 hours of Crit racing that just got progressively harder, culminating in a brutal W1-3 race, which saw a very stacked field of 25 fresh women, mostly Cat 1’s and 2’s, go off in 92 degrees and very high humidity, only to attack the tar out of each other.  It was very intense racing right from the whistle.  After getting 11th out of 13 in the 15-16 boys race, 1st out of 4 in the 15-18 girls race, and 11th out of 22 in the W3-4 race, the constant attacks and fast pace in the W1-3 race, combined with the heat, proved to be too much for Moriah.  With well over an hour of Zone 5 in her legs, she popped off with five other riders 30 minutes into the race.  With all of them being quite purple in the face, they got pulled.  It was a solid day for Moriah and with her 4 races today she became the first Strive Racing team member to top 300 races.  Wow!

Sarah, who was also on her 4th race of the day in the W1-3, and had already recorded a staggering 1 hour and 34 minutes of Zone 5 (new PR & TR), hung on for an additional 10 minutes (40 minute mark), but came off right as the field got the 5 to go lap card.  Ohhhh!  Almost!  She was the 7th and final DNF of this vicious race.  Outstanding job Sarah!

Rachel hung in there tough as nails, but it was her 3rd race of the day, and she was pretty cooked.  On very tired legs, she hung on to finish 10th out of the 25 starters, which is great progress for her.  Rachel’s form is slowly returning after her bout with mono (YAY!).  Great job Rach!
 
Special congrats to Pamela Schuster who held off the entire W1-3 field solo for 20 minutes.  At age 55, against that field, well that is just incredible.  Special congrats also to Megan Jastrab who after winning all of the primes and going on two breaks, easily took the win in W3-4 with an awesome final sprint.  These two Ladies sure made the Woman’s races very exciting to watch.  Thank you for bringing it Ladies!

It was a very hard day for everyone, but a great day of endurance training.  Strive On!
 
July 11th, 2015 - San Luis Rey - Road Race State Championships
Yesterday was the State Championship Road Race for the juniors.  Unfortunately, the fields were once again very small, which is discouraging for the future of our sport.  Rachel had our one gimmie win of the day, as she was the only 17-18 junior girl to show up for her 44 mile road race.  Rachel’s health and speed are slowly returning, and she is hopeful that she can regain what the mono took from her body by the time she leaves for Milligan College in 5 weeks.  Once at Milligan, she will start Collegiate Racing, which is very fast and competitive in the Women’s Category A division.  She will be racing with her sister Hannah and a bunch of other new fast riders.  Milligan will have a great team next year.

Moriah had a field of 5 competitors in the 15-16 women’s division, which also raced for 44 miles.  She took the win by over 5 minutes. Great job Mo!  As expected, Moriah’s lost speed from her broken ankle is coming back just a couple of weeks after NATs.  The timing of her broken ankle, just 6.5 weeks before NATs, could not have been worse.  While Moriah could not have won a National Championship this year, she definitely could have been on the podium in the road race, and possibly the crit.  Next year, she is at the bottom of the ultra-competitive 17-18 UCI division, so the podium is only 3 deep.  With an automatic selection to Worlds on the line, it is a tall order to make the 3 person podium at the bottom of your age division in 17-18, but the road race course with its steep finish is perfect for 97 pound Moriah.  Hannah accomplished this goal at the bottom of 17-18, and Moriah has already set it as her number one goal for next year.

Our third win, and State Championship of the day came from Luke, who had a field of 7 riders in 11-12.  Luke, Issac and Tyler broke away on the flats and stayed together until they hit the final 2 mile climb.  Luke then put the hammer down, and soloed up the hill to take the win by almost 3 minutes.  Tyler and Issac had an incredible final sprint battle, with Issac coming around Tyler right before the line.  Great job Luke!

Sarah, whose 13-14 race was only 11 miles, chose to do the 44 mile Women’s Cat 3-4 race instead, because they were running at the exact same time.  Sarah, who is the only Swan girl not to have won the SoCal cup in Women Cat 3-4, looks like she will be able to do it this year, which has been one of her main goals.  Hannah and Rachel each did it at age 16.  Moriah did it at age 15.  Barring an injury, it looks like Sarah will do it at age 14.  Woot Woot!  Sarah’s race had a field of 23 ladies, which was widdled down to 15 after the first climb.  Sarah shot off the front multiple times, and each time a few of the stronger ladies would bridge up to her.  While Sarah encouraged them to work the break-away and make it stick, a few of the Ladies had teammates they wanted for the final climb back in the peloton, so they did not want to work.  Each time, the break got caught.  Skyflash was one of those teams who had multiple riders in the race, and they executed their team tactics perfectly on the last climb, with Meredith setting up Deanna beautifully.  There were two lines coming into the final turn and Sarah found herself having to settle for third wheel on the left line after some serious bumping.  Unfortunately, the left line was right up against the center line, with the Moto ref watching closely for an instant DQ.  With Skyflash at the front of both lines, Sarah was totally boxed.  Deanna, who was at the front of the left line, looked over at Meredith who was on the front of the right line and smiled (classic video shot!).  She read the situation, saw her opportunity, and punched it.  Unfortunately, 2nd wheel on the left line could not match Deanna’s acceleration.  Sarah could not swing right because of Meredith’s line and she could not swing left because of the yellow line.  UUUUGH!  Deanne quickly pulled away.  Finally, as the rode started to bend right into the final corner, both lines slowly drifted away from the yellow line and Sarah was able to take the long way around the rider in front of her without crossing the yellow line.  She got by her, but by then, Deanna was long gone.  Sarah opened up 10 bike lengths over 3rd place closing in on Deanna, but she ran out of road.  2nd place once again in this division.  It was very cool to see Skyflash get the win, as they are one of the few faithful Women 3-4 teams who always show up to every race, with Hannibal Hector faithfully serving his Dragons.  Great job Skyflash and Deanna with a perfectly timed, powerful final sprint!  

Three wins and a second place is an incredible day on the results front.  However, what made the day even sweeter, was that the third win, was the team’s 200th win!  It took 6 years and 233 races to do it, but we finally got to 200.  As we will continue to lose riders to College (God willing!), I seriously doubt that we can get to 300 wins, . . . . but we have 7 more years to try.  Strive On!

June 29th, 2015 - Final Nats Update
Yaaaaay!  Nationals is over.  This was a challenging year.  From Rachel’s Mono, to Mo’s broken ankle, to Sarah, Luke and my flu, it was just plain hard.  The last day went about as good as it could have gone, given the shape of our hurting team.  Team formless (Hannah, Rachel, Moriah) road very well.  Rachel finished in 15th out of the 30 riders in the 17-18, Moriah finished 10th out of the 27 riders in the 15-16, and Hannah actually landed on the podium, finishing 2nd out of the 11 riders in the U23 women.  Go Hannah!  This was the best finish for each of them at NATs this year.  Our two podium contenders (Sarah and Luke) once again raced very sick for the third time at NATs.  Neither one of them could breathe through their congestion and cough, however both of them still fought with everything they had left in the tank on this last day of NATs.
 
Luke’s division had a massive 12 year old phenom named Will Sharp.  Will Sharp not only swept all three National Championships, he won the 16 minute long time trial with over a minute gap over 2nd place.  Seriously???  Will Sharp went from the whistle in the Crit and soloed the entire race to win very easily, lapping almost the entire 33 rider field, except a select chase group of 12.  Luke was in that “best of the rest” chase group, which simply could not gain any ground on Will.  Luke came around the final corner on the podium in 4th place (3rd in the chase group).  However, he was simply too sick to outsprint the big 12 year-olds.  Two of them came by him in the last 25m to bump him down into 6th, just one spot off the podium.  It was our third 6th place of NATs.  Ouch!  My heart broke for him.  It is no fun racing sick, because you feel so horrible physically.  But when you finish one spot off the podium, getting kicked off it, right before the line, well . . .  then you feel horrible emotionally as well.  It is double-banger discouragement and it was a tough way to end NATs for Luke.  The 6th place curse also happened to Sarah twice this year at NATs, so she was able to relate with Luke.  It was hard.  However, hard is good and it builds character.

Sarah, who was by far the sickest of all the Swans this week with this stupid flu, still had zero power in her achy body for the Crit.  She did the best she could with muscles that would not respond, and she finally landed on the podium in 5th place.  Sarah has now made the NATs podium for 4 consecutive years.  Sarah had two phenoms in her division, Megan Jastrab and Katie Clouse.  So, just like Luke with Will Sharp, there was no chance of a National Championship for her, even if she was healthy.  That said, we believe she could have finished 3rd to those two power-house sprinters in all three races.  I believe the same is true for Luke, who rode way under the numbers he has been hitting all season long, simply because his body felt like “doo-doo.”  In the end, this nasty flu cost us 4 podiums across Sarah and Luke, but thankfully, each of them still came away with one.  Thank you, Lord!

Aside from seeing Hannah again, the highlight of NATs for us this year was watching our two good friends from SoCal sweep all three National Championships races in their respective divisions.  Makayla Macpherson won all three National Championships in the 11-12 division and Megan Jastrab won all three in the 13-14 division.  Both of these girls trained super hard this year and it was awesome to see their hard work pay off.  Having won 2 National Championships in the last two years, we know what it feels like, and it was awesome to share in their excitement.  The Megan / Katie battle was so fun to watch, as each race was incredibly close.  The RR and Crit final sprints came down to less than a bike length each time, and the TT was decided by just 4 seconds.  Megan repeatedly beat a very established junior icon and Makayla just annihilated her competition in all three of her races.   Way to represent women’s SoCal racing ladies!  We are super proud of both of you.

Here are the humbling results from the Swan kids, all of which significantly lower than years past.
 
National Championships:  0
National Podiums:  3
National Top 10’s:  9

Hannah (U23)
Field – 11 Riders
RR - 6th
TT - 7th
Crit – 2nd

Rachel (17-18)
Field – 27 Riders
RR - 16th
TT -  15th
Crit - 15th

Moriah (15-16)
Field – 28 Riders
RR -  14th
TT -  22nd
Crit - 10th

Sarah (13-14)
Field – 22 Riders
RR - 6th
TT -  6th
Crit -  5th

Luke (11-12, bottom of his age division)
Field – 33 Riders
RR – 4th
TT -  12th
Crit – 6th

As we have no family vacations scheduled for this summer, we decided to stay in Tahoe for one extra day to just hang out as a family.  After sleeping in we went out for a nice breakfast, went on a beautiful mountain hike with waterfalls and lakes, swam in a one of the lakes, played cards, relaxed, and had an awesome BBQ.  It was a great way to decompress from a very hard week.  Tomorrow it’s back to reality.  Strive On!
 
June 27th, 2015 - Nats Update #5
When it rains, it pours.  Today went from worse to “some bad word” that is well south of worse!  Luke woke up with dark green snot, a sore throat, and body aches.  Sarah, whose flu/cold had already given her virtually every bad symptom in the book, except for a croup cough, picked up the cough overnight.  She woke up hacking.  I feel so bad for these two, because unlike the other three, they both had really good form.  Each had a good chance of standing on all three podiums.  However, both of them are sicker than I have seen them in a really long time.  It is definitely taking the fun out of Nationals.  Rachel and I also got sicker today, so the Swan house is very ready for Nationals to end, so that we can rest and get better.  

The time trial for Sarah and Luke today was very hard to watch.  Both kids felt horrible but still tried to race.  I knew that neither of their bodies would perform.  The TT requires such physical and mental fortitude, neither of which existed for Sarah or Luke today.  They were very broken way before they ever went to the line.
They tried, but neither one of them were able to race anywhere close to their potential.  They both fell far short of the numbers they had been hitting all season.  Luke finished 12th out of 33 and Sarah finished in 6th out of 22.  They each missed the podium by around 25 seconds.  Had their bodies just allowed them to do what they have been doing all season, Luke would have finished in 4th and Sarah would have finished in 3rd.  They are both very discouraged and had a hard time believing they went as slow as they did.  Unfortunately, with how sick they are, there is little chance they will feel any better by tomorrow, which is the last day.  This year’s NATs is toast.  We will still do the remaining 5 crits tomorrow, but with a simple expectation to just finish off the event.

Every year we have had our list of setbacks at NATs.  However, we have never had a year go this far south.  From Rachel’s Mononucleosis, to Moriah’s broken ankle, to Sarah and Luke’s flu/cold, it has been a very challenging NATs.  While it has been very hard, it has also been a great opportunity for character growth.  Coming off back to back National Championships, 8 podiums, and 20 top ten finishes, it looks like we will end this year with just one podium.  We will do our best to have fun tomorrow, but with how everyone is feeling, we are ready for 2015 NATs to be done, so that we can have fun hanging out as a family.
 
June 26th, 2015 - Nats Update #4
Well, today things went from bad to worse.  Team formless (Hannah, Rachel, Moriah) really struggled today in the 95 degree TT and the family’s health got worse.  The road races really took their toll on team sicky, as Sarah and Rachel each got sicker from their tough road races.  Rachel had zero energy today and missed her target effort by over 5%, which cost her about 2 minutes.  Her time of 31:35 was only good for 15th.  However, even if she was healthy, the best she could have done was 7th given her current form.  Chloe won again, and is now 2 for 2 at NATs, winning today with a time of 27:37.  Wow!  Great job Chloe! 

Moriah, who has always struggled in the TT, was thrashed from her 3200 feet of climbing in the road race, which was her first effort in 6 weeks after breaking her ankle.  Physically and mentally down, she had a really bad day, finishing 22nd out of the 23 riders.  Needless to say, she is pretty discouraged.  Summer Moak took the win with a time of 28:27.  Go Summer!  Hannah, who is in a similar “not been training” boat could not recover from her 77 mile road race.  She finished 7th out of 10 in the U23 division with a time of 30:35.  A huge thank you to Megan Heath for graciously lending Hannah her TT bike today.  Awesome bike.  Very cool selfless act.  What a blessing! 

We are all thankful that today is over.  It was a tough day on everyone. I wish I could say that we are optimistic about tomorrow as far as making a podium, but Sarah like Mo has never been good at TT’s, and the road race just made her sicker.  That said, she told me that she is racing no matter how sick she is tomorrow.  That’s just Sarah!  Luke, who is now also getting sick as we pass this bug around the family, will be at an extreme disadvantage tomorrow with his 62 pound body fighting the wind.  There are a lot of very large 12 year olds who have 50+ pounds of muscle on Luke, and 13 minute TT’s are all about power.  They will cut through the wind much easier than Luke will.  That said, Sarah and Luke will still give it everything they have and hopefully they will both crack the top 10.  Strive On!

June 25th, 2015 - Nats Update #3
Day 2 is in the books and it went pretty much as expected.  10 year old, 60 pound Luke (RA 11) was just too small to outsprint the big 12 year olds.  He finished 4th out of the 32 riders and was the only 11 year old to make the podium.  Good sign for next year when all the 12 year olds are gone.  While making the podium at the bottom of your age division on the boy’s side is always an impressive feat, Luke did not race hard today, nor go deep in his final sprint. As a result, he was a little disappointed.  Not so much because he could have placed higher, but simply because he knows he did not "Strive On" and leave it all out there.  There are two more races to do so.
 
Sarah’s flu simply rendered her body dysfunctional.  Her temperature finally broke today so we let her race.  However, she still had body aches, no energy, and zero power on the bike.  Like Rachel the day before, she could not get her heart rate above Zone 4.7.   When it came time for the final sprint, she just went backwards.  She finished 6th out of 22, missing the podium by less than a bike.  Ouch!  She was very discouraged.  Coming into NATs, for the first time in four years Sarah was at the top of her age division, had awesome form, had no broken bones, and was very determined to give Katie and Megan a run for their money. Then 3 days before her first race, she gets the flu!!!  That’s racing.
 
Katie and Megan, as expected had an epic final sprint battle. In the end, it was Megan by 3/4ths of a bike.  These two were 2nd and 3rd wheel coming around the final corner.  Megan went right when Katie went left to get around the rider on the front who was quickly dying.  With the road bending right, Megan had the inside, shorter, line and she held off a charging Clouse, who after taking the long way around was closing fast.  It was very exciting to watch.  Great job Megan!   Just as impressive was Jane Tullis’s sprint.  Jane came around the final corner all the way back in 8th place.  She then passed 5 riders in the final 100m to take 3rd.  Great job Jane!  It was a super fun day of racing.  Tomorrow, we are back to the three olders who will race the TT.  While the podium is well out of reach for these three, we are hopeful for a top 10 somewhere in there.  Strive on!
 
June 24th, 2015 - Nats Update #2
Well the first day of racing is in the books.  If you read the previous blog entry, then you know that we have three riders with no form (Hannah, Rachel, Moriah) and two riders with good form (Sarah and Luke). Unfortunately, Sarah has the flu and has stayed in bed for the last days.  She is supposed to race tomorrow and we are praying for some miraculous healing.  Today, Hannah, Rachel, and Moriah all had their respective road races.  As expected, all three had very humbling results. In the 17-18 race, which had 43 miles and 3200 feet of climbing, Rachel finished 11 minutes back from the race winner, Chloe Dygert, which was only good for 16th out of the 25 starters.  Rachel raced very sick today and probably would not have finished the race if it were not for Hannah Green, who graciously and compassionately gave Rachel her inhaler mid race to stop Rachel’s out of control coughing/wheezing fit.  Rachel was unable to log a single second of Zone 5 time today.  Nothing but Zone 2, 3, and 4.  Gotta feel good to go deep.  Despite having no form, I would have loved to see where she finished with 30+ minutes of Zone 5.  At least she gets a day off to recover before the time trial.  Hopefully, she will heal up a bit.  Moriah’s goal 2 months ago before the accident was to make the podium.  She did the best she could racing with her broken ankle and lost form.  She finished 14th out of the 28 racers in the 15-16 division.  She was 5.5 minutes behind the race winner Meghan Heath.  Great job Megan!  We are very excited for you.
 
Hannah had the brutal task of tackling 77 miles and 5,000 feet of climbing in the heat of the day, where temps hit the mid 90s.  Hannah is not in great shape right now, but did the best she could on this very hard ride.  She finished 6th out of the 9 starters in U23.  As expected Kelly Catlin rode away solo from the other riders, finishing 8 minutes ahead of 2nd place.  Wow!  Great job Kelly.
 
Originally, we had tomorrow ear marked as our best chance for podiums, as we have Sarah’s and Luke’s road races.  Last year they both made the podium with Sarah finishing 4th and Luke winning the National Championship.  However, with Luke now at the bottom of his age division in a 34 person field, and Sarah now down with the flu, tomorrow may be another tough day on the results front.  We shall see.  Strive On!

June 23rd, 2015 - Nats Update
It is the day before the start of USAC’s Junior Road National Championships and the entire Swan family, including Hannah, are here in Lake Tahoe.  Yesterday, we pre-drove the TT courses and pre-rode both Road races courses.  Today we will check out the Crit and then register.  Tomorrow, . . . its ON!
 
Unfortunately, our team is a hurting unit, both on speed and on health.  Our three older riders, Hannah (U23), Rachel (17-18), and Moriah (15-16) are all void of competitive form.  After winning the team D2 Collegiate National Championship with Milligan, Hannah took time off from training and now has a more than full time job as a Camp Councilor back in North Carolina.  With no time to train and nothing but camp food to eat, the speed has left.  Rachel is also much slower than she was last year.  After being sick all season, we finally got some blood work done a couple of weeks ago and found out that she has had Mononucleosis (Mono)!  Her challenging season all makes sense now, as this nasty virus cripples your energy levels for up to six months.  While the virus is now finally gone, unfortunately, so is Rachel’s speed.  It will take some time for her to get it back.  Moriah, who was starting to show some decent form a couple of months ago, broke her ankle in a bike accident 6 weeks ago.  The bone is not totally healed, but she has been cleared to race.  However, after 5 weeks of doing nothing, well, the speed has left her too.  These three know that the podium is out of reach, and that their results at NATs will be humbling at best, but that’s OK.  Lake Tahoe is an amazing place and we are making this trip more about having fun as a family, outside of the races.

Our two younger riders, Sarah and Luke, both have excellent form, and we are hopeful that each of them can make the podium at least once.  Sarah has two phenoms in her division in Katie Clouse and Megan Jastrab, so a National Championship would a tall order.  She also has a number of National podium stand outs like Jane Tullis and Eva Sykes, so a podium or two for her would be a great result.  Sarah is the only Swan to make the Nationals podium for the last three consecutive years, and despite waking up very sick yesterday, she is hopeful the streak will continue.  Luke is at the bottom of his 11-12 age division.  At 10 years old and just 60 pounds, he will have his hands full with the bigger, faster 12 year old boys.  Luke also has the largest field size with 33 racers, so making the podium would be very impressive.

As far as health goes, Coach (that’s me), Rachel, and Sarah are all very sick.  Rachel has been riding sick all season, so she is fairly used to it.  Sarah just came down with the junk yesterday and has been in bed all day.  She does not race for 48 hours, so we are doing what we can to rest her up.  And me, well, I do not have much of a choice being Dad, Coach, Mechanic, Bus Driver, Swan-Ya, etc. for 5 different riders who are in 5 different divisions this year!  But, I’m good.  I have too much to be thankful for to complain.  A thankful heart is a happy heart.

That all said, speed, health, and results are not required to have fun which has always been our team’s number one goal.  We are already having a blast up here in God’s amazing creation and we are very thankful for all of our sponsors and supporters who have made this trip possible.  Strive On! 
 
June 6th & 7th, 2015 - Adrenaline Circuit and Manhattan Beach GP
We began the weekend bright and early racing at the Adrenaline Circuit Race. Sarah kicked things off in the first race of the day with the Women’s Cat 3-4 race. Sarah won this race last year, and was excited to snap her “5 consecutive podiums without a win” streak.  With Libby not in the field, things looked good for Sarah.  However, SDBC had six strong women in the field, and they immediately started controlling the race, with attack after attack, after counter attack, after counter attack.  Sarah and Vanessa Snapp from Incycle did all of the work hunting down each attack and Sarah went with two of the moves, gutting herself to get them to stick.  Unfortunately, SDBC’s Ester Walker was fresh and with one lap to go, she broke away solo.  You can’t go with 6 different riders and Sarah did the best she could to figure out which SDBC riders were the strongest.  She chose wrong and Ester soloed in for the win.  Sarah easily won the field sprint for yet another 2nd place, which was her 6th consecutive Women 3-4 podium without a win.  It was a physically demanding race for Sarah and she was pretty cooked afterward.  However, her aggressive riding continued in the next race which was the Women’s 1-3.  With Joy and Jo up the road in a two person break, and Rachel and Sarah training for NATs, the two of them counter attacked the remaining peloton the entire race.  Once again, Sarah spent a ton of time off the front, most of it solo, and by the end of this race, 44 miles later, she was totally spent, having already logged 1 hour and 15 minutes of zone 5 time.  Ouch!  Rachel and Sarah finished 5th and 7th respectively.  The third race of the day was the standard young junior combo field, but with the 13-14 boys added in.  Knowing that even when Sarah is fresh she cannot beat Megan, and seeing how fried she was after two category races, I told her she could just sit in on this third race and let Megan go with the 13-14 boy break.  She needed to spin down after her 44 miles of hammering.  She still finished 2nd out of the 4 riders in 9-12.   Luke broke away from his field of 7 to solo tt the win, which was his 10th of the season. Great job Luke! Rachel, did the same in her race, recording the team’s 23rd win of the season.  It was a good day.
 
The following morning, we raced the Manhattan Beach Grand Prix. Once again, Sarah missed the winning break of 4 riders as a result of poor decision making.  She is still learning how to read a race when it comes to what moves to follow when there are teams with multiple riders.  In Women 3-4, where team tactics do not always go as planned, it can be very hard to figure out who is a sacrificial lamb, and who is strong enough to stick it.  Sarah got it wrong for the second day in a row and was left trying to win a field sprint for 5th place out of the 24 rider field.  Sarah easily won that field sprint for 5th, but was very disappointed, as her Cat 3-4 podium streak finally came to an end at 6.  It was a great run.  Way to go Sarah!  As a side note, the very best way to teach someone how to make the winning breakaway, is to have them miss it two days in a row.  We watched the video afterward and hindsight was 20/20.  Great learning experience.  Our last race of the weekend was the Women’s Pro 1-2, which had a pretty stacked field, including all 5 of the top 5 NCC riders.  Wow!  Rachel, who still isn’t feeling well did not engage the race, and just sat on the back.  Sure enough, 34 minutes into the race, with 5 to go, she got popped and pulled. Three days ago, we finally took Rachel to the doctor to find out what is going on with her.  We found out she has had mono and that she still has a sinus infection.  Rachel really wanted to do MBGP, so we let her race sick once again, just to gain the experience of lining up against the Pros.  Now that she is finally taking antibiotics for her sickness, and we are hopeful she will be back to her old self soon.  Hopefully, before Nationals.  Strive on!
 
May 31st, 2015 - Ladera Ranch Grand Prix
Ladera Ranch is such a pretty venue, with a fun, technical and challenging course. I don’t understand why more people don’t do this race. Sarah kicked things off today taking the line with 18 women in the Women 3-4 race. The race was very animated, and Sarah rode aggressively, winning a nice prime and making two separate breaks. Each break got about 8 seconds on the field, but with only one other person in it to make it stick, the field pulled them back. Sarah took the bell 5th wheel, and came around the final corner 2nd wheel. Unfortunately, Libby Painter was 1st wheel, and more often than not at this race, the first person into the corner wins. With 150 meters to go, Sarah swung and pulled herself up next to Libby. ARRGGGG deja vu! These two had another awesome sprint battle, but once again, Libby came out on top as she pulled away in the last 25 meters to take the win.  Great job Libby!  We love losing to you. 
 
Our second race of the day was the Women 1-3, which saw 26 ladies take the start, including Sarah and Rachel. The race was fun and fairly fast at 24.5 mph. Monster Media, who had six riders in the race, did a great job controlling it. With two laps to go, their lead out train was in full effect, and the Strive girls had no chance to move up, as the hammer stayed down.  Em nailed the final leadout for Shelby who took the win over PC.  "Where you go in, is where you come out." The girls took the bell deep and finished in 12th (Rach) and 14th (Sarah). Sarah was 2nd out of the Cat 3's, once again, only behind Libby.  Come on girl, upgrade already!  Very fun race. Strive on!
 
May 24th & 25th, 2015 - Barry Wolfe Grand Prix and CBR #6
Barry Wolfe and CBR were both tons of fun, except for missing Mo.  She loves these two races.  Sarah Rachel and Luke all started the day early with the W15-18 and M13-14 race.  Sarah and Rachel finished 1st and 2nd respectively.  Luke would once again hang till the end in this division up from his, but then get blown out in the sprint, finishing 9th out of the 13 riders in 13-14.  Our second race of the day was the W9-14 and M9-12 race combo.  This race was pretty slow and uneventful.  In the sprint Sarah and Luke both finished 2nd to their much larger legged competitors Megan and Isaac.  Ironically, Luke had just beaten Isaac in the earlier morning race, and these two have a fun rivalry developing.  Isaac has been demonstrating great sportsmanship before, during and after the races with Luke.  Great job Isaac!
 
The third race of the day was the Women 3/4, which just had Sarah.  Sarah was once again the only rider, out of the 28 women racing, who was on her third race of the day.  With the field stacked with previous Women 3/4 winners and great sprinters, including Megan, Rachel, Angel and Libby, I was not to optimistic.  Sarah came around the last corner in decent position, somewhere around 5th wheel.  Megan got the ball rolling, jumping very early in the sprint and catching everyone off guard.  By the time Libby responded it was too late.  She was gapped.  Megan threw down an incredible sprint to take the win by 5 bike lengths.  Outstanding finish Megan!  Pure power.  
 
The Megan Jastrab / Katie Clouse battle in 13-14 NATs this year is going to be very fun to watch.  While Katie repeatedly got the better of Megan at San Dimas earlier in the year, Megan’s speed and power has sky-rocketed since then.  That battle will be worth the price of admission, and Sarah gets a front row seat.  Sarah would finish 3rd in this race, missing 2nd by less than a bike to Libby.  It was Sarah’s 4th consecutive podium in Women 3/4, and the finish earned her 2 more points towards her Cat 2 upgrade.  We finished off the day with the Women 1-3, which saw 35 women race very hard.  As Sarah was not up for her 4th race of the day (Why Not?!?!), we just had Rachel out there, who was still battling her sickness.  We eventually need to rest this girl to get her better! After repeated attempts at a breakaway, Em, Shannon, Kate, and Tracy finally got away late in the race, leaving 17 riders from the four teams to police the front for the last few laps while the four riders got clear.  Kate would throw down a sick final sprint to easily take the win over Em.  Wow!  Go Kate!  At 24.7mph, it was a hard race for Rachel.  She finished mid pack but did not get her number recorded for some reason.  All good.

The next morning we raced CBR, which is always a ton of fun.  The first race was another one of those funky combo junior races, which included Sarah and Rachel, 7 riders in 13-14, including Luke, and then 10 riders from the Junior Men 17-18.  All 19 riders racing together, scored separately.  Ouch!  The 17-18 boys set a solid pace for the field at 24.0mph and I was incredibly proud of Luke as he hung all the way through the final sprint with young men who were literally twice as big as him.  Sarah got the better of Rachel and all three kids were pretty cooked after this hard race.  Our last race of this three day race weekend came 6 hours later in the Women 1-3, which saw 16 ladies attack the tar out of each other for 50 minutes.  Like the morning race, this one also averaged 24.0mph, but was much harder than the morning race as it was attack after attack, sit up, surge, repeat!  Once again, for the second day in a row, Kate Wilson would cycle away from the field into a late 2 person break away, then come in solo on the last lap.  Wow.  Kate was just on fire this weekend.  Great job Kate!  This was Sarah’s first W1-3 this year and I was very pleased with her 7th place finish.  Rachel finished 10th.  Another long, hard, but very fun weekend of racing is in the books.  Strive On! 

May 23, 2015 - State Champinoship Time Trial
Saturday was a good start to a long weekend of racing.  I love TTs because they give you an accurate measuring stick of your progress from the previous year.  In the morning races for the younger juniors (9-14), there were 10 competitors that returned from previous year who had not aged up to the long course.  8 of the 10 riders improved on their times from the previous year.  Luke was one of them and his time of 13:45 was 23 seconds faster than his time from last year.  Luke won by a minute and thirty seven seconds over 2nd place.  Great job Luke!

Sarah was the 2nd most improved rider out of the returning 10, improving her time by 41 seconds over last year.  Her time of 13:20 was good for 2nd place behind Megan Jastrab’s smoking fast time of 12:38!  Megan was by far the most improved rider of the 10, improving her time by 53 seconds.  Simply amazing!  Great job Megan.  To put this in perspective, the two most improved boys were Tommy Steiner and Lance Araiza, who improved their times by 37 and 31 seconds respectively.  Girl power!  Lance would win the 13-14 boys division with 12:20.  Lance, Luke, and Megan all won their divisions by at least 30 seconds and all of them are at the bottom of their age divisions.  Wow!  Young speed.  Very cool!

Rachel, who is still fighting her sickness from the last three weeks struggled today, finishing 2 minutes and 14 seconds behind her time from last year on the long course.  That said, she was still fast enough to get the win over Rachel Cross and win the teams 2nd State Championship of the day.  Great job Rach! 

The two highlights of the day were when both of the junior women’s all time course records fell.  Megan’s 12:38 on the short course beat Cheyenne Comer’s previous record by 14 seconds.  The long course record was held by Strive Racing’s Rachel Swan at 43:06.  Summer Moak’s destroyed that today with a 42:01.  Great job Summer!  The most impressive part of these two new records is that both Ladies get another crack at beating their own records.   Megan has one more chance next year, and Summer has two.  They will no doubt beat their own records over the next two years and should own them for a long time to come.  What a blessing to be able to race with such amazing talent.  Iron sharpens iron.

May 17, 2015 - Torrance Criterium
Torrance was an emotional day.  This was the first race that Moriah had missed since her gnarly crash with the car, where she broke her ankle.  It was hard for the team not having her there with us.  The day had good emotions, as I received countless well wishes, cards and gifts for her, including a new frame, but it also had bad emotions, as most people then instantly asked about NATs.  Last year Moriah broke her arm in two places before NATs, but was still able to compete, albeit without her speed.  This year, it does not look like she will be able to compete at all, which is really hard for everyone, especially Moriah, as she is at the top of her age division and was determined to be on the podium.  There is still a slight chance she could race, but we will not know for sure until we get another X-ray on June 12th.  The day was also emotional for Sarah because of what happened in her first race.
 
Sarah and Megan dropped the field, right from the whistle.  Sarah was very excited to work with her friend, and competitor, in the break, and then battle it out at the end for the win.  But Megan refused to work with Sarah and instead repeatedly attacked her after each of Sarah’s pulls.  Megan’s attacks were successful and she soloed on to take the win.  Congrats Megan!  The relationship of a break away always has to come to an end at some point, and while it usually happens on the last lap, and nobody in a break likes being attacked after a hard pull, that’s just racing.  14 year old girl emotions can be pretty intense at times, and I am humbly proud of how teachable Sarah has been.  Great job Sarah!  Second to our awesome learning experience, was Luke’s win in this same race.  It was his 8th win of the season.  Great job Luke!  He would race again with the 13-14’s and finish 6th out of 9 riders.

Our third race of the day was a strange mix of 17-18 boys, 15-16 boys, Luke, and 5 girls, all racing together???  With a total field of only 10 riders, and one very clear favorite in 18 year old Bailey Eckles, the entire race became a fight for Bailey’s wheel, with both the boys and the girls getting a little too bumpy at times.  Everyone knew he was by far the fastest rider in the race.  As the group came around the final corner with 300m to go and I saw Rachel on the front already taking wind with Bailey glued to her wheel, and Megan glued to Baileys wheel, I knew the race was over.  Bailey patiently let Rachel finish her lead out for him (LOL!) and then broke hard left with 200m to go with Megan in tow.  The two of them slowly drove past the roasting Rachel, who died quickly in the last 50m.  Rachel still ended up 2nd out of the 5 women by a huge margin after a far too long sprint.  With how sick Rachel has been, it was a very solid finish.

As we were not going to stay for the W1-3 race, we decided to let Rachel hop in with the Cat 3 men.  Rachel, who has been sick for the last two weeks, simply did not have clear enough lungs to hang with the blistering 27.5 MPH pace for the first 5 laps, as the break fought to get established.  She came off on lap 6 and I pulled her.  I found out immediately afterward that a Men’s Cat 3 race serves as a great Neti Pot!

Our final race of the day was the Woman’s Cat 3-4 race, which saw a field of 20 Ladies take the start.  The four juniors in the race, Sarah, Rachel Cross, Makayla, and McKenzie, all rode outstanding.  It was awesome to see them letting each other in and encouraging each other.  It made the race way more fun for each of them and helped wash away Sarah’s morning race sadness.  Kenzie would battle back from getting dropped to rejoin the group and finish in 16th.  Good job Kenz!  Kay rode awesome, finishing in 9th place.   Great job Kay!  Sarah and Rachel would have an epic battle for the win.

With a nasty headwind now blowing almost directly into the final sprint, and skinny-legged Sarah at the end of her 3rd race, I didn’t think she had a chance against the bigger, stronger, faster Rachel Cross, who had 1 less race in her legs.  That said, when I saw Rachel Cross come around the last corner 2nd wheel, and Sarah 3rd wheel, I knew Sarah would rip herself inside out trying.  That’s just Sarah!  Rachel was incredibly patient, as the rider in front of her began to die in the headwind.  She waited to swing until she sensed the field starting to swarm around her.  Then Boom!  Both girls swung and an epic 150m sprint battle ensued.  Sarah dug deep and pulled up right next to Cross.  The two of them battled side by side for 100m.  It was so cool!  With 25m to go, Sarah’s engine gasket blew, as Rachel Cross was just too strong.  Rachel rode an awesome race and deserved the win.  She also won every prime and secured the remaining points she needed for her Cat 2 upgrade.  We are super stoked for her.  Great job Rae-Rae!  The 2nd place finish for Sarah, which ironically was her third, 2nd place finish in a row in W3-4, brings her up to 18 upgrade points towards her Cat 2.

It was very cool for me to hang out all day with Derek and Robert, who set up camp right next to us.  Our three families are all growing much closer together, and it is great to see the kids having so much fun both in and out of the races.  We are so sorry about Robert’s nasty crash in the Men race and are praying for quick healing and less pain.  Strive On!

May 2nd & 3rd, 2015 - Barrio Logan GP and Dana Point Grand Prix
It was a great weekend of racing at Barrio Logan and Dana Point.   We began with the Junior races at Barrio Logan, which went down in a bizarre, and disappointing, manner.  These were the Criterium State Championships races, and not one of the three girls got to throw down in a final sprint battle for the win.  Why?  Girls racing with boys.   Gotta love the Barrio where the girls race with boys their exact same age!  Raced together, scored separately, but with no boy/girl age offset like in the other mixed races during the year.  
 
In both the 15-16 and the 17-18 race, fast boys, like Cat 2 Jules Gilliam from Specialized, punched it full throttle right from the whistle.  Both Rachel and Moriah were not expecting such violent attacks right off the line.  They never recovered.   Each of them fought to get up through the first few corners but as they went into the hill on the first lap, they were at the very back of the pack.  Not good.  Especially when their female competitors went into the hill mid-pack, mixed in with the boys.  Of course the boys punched it even harder up the hill, and by the top, the Swans were snapped.  Their key competitors, who were Rachel Cross for Rachel, and Summer Moak for Moriah, both held on to the back of the boy’s peloton as they crested.  They were gone.  Race over, just one minute after it started.  This happened twice.  Rachel should have known better after watching Moriah’s race, but for some reason she did not.  Note to self.  More “clip and freak out sprint” practice.  That all said, there was no way that Moriah could have beaten Summer Moak even if she gotten the start of her life.  The two Rachel’s on the other hand would have had a fun race, and final sprint, to watch.  Awesome job to Summer Moak and Rachel Cross on their wins and for fighting hard to hold onto the boys for as long as they did.
 
Sarah’s race was the exact opposite.  After racing at just an average pace for 20 minutes, the boys sat up.  With Sarah on the outside line and in the middle of a clogging boy bubble, Megan quietly snuck up the inside, taking advantage of the pause.  Sarah let her go, expecting the boys to respond, but they all just sat there.  That mistake cost her the race.  However, I cannot blame Sarah.  We have raced with the 13-14 boys over 100 times in the last 6 years.  Not once have I ever seen them let a girl go.  It’s just a pride thing at that age.  The boys always respond.  However, this one time, they did not.  After sitting there for a bit, one of the boys finally turned to Sarah, and with a smirk yelled to the other boys, “That’s a girl up there, just let her go!”  Sarah’s heart sank!  She eventually worked her way out of the bubble and took off, but Megan was long gone by then.  Sure enough as soon as Sarah went, the boys began to attack again.  What!  Sarah looked back, saw them coming, sat up, and slotted in.  Of course, shortly after catching Sarah, they all sat up again.  Really???  It was just bizarre.  The boys continued to play their silly “You Go!” game for the next lap and a half, while Megan pedaled away to victory and Sarah just sat there silently screaming inside in pure frustration.  Oh well, that’s racing.  Some decisions you make are right.  Some are wrong.  You learn from your decisions and you make better ones next time.  Sarah should have been sitting on Megan, not the fastest boy.  Great job to Megan on her win via a very gutsy decision!  Fortunately, Sarah was able to release her final sprint energy later in the day when she threw down to take 2nd place out the 30 starters in the Women’s Cat 3-4 race.  Sarah missed the win by half a bike to Libby Painter, a great sprinter.  Moriah finished 16th in that race.  The 2nd place finish gave Sarah 3 more points towards her Cat 2 upgrade, and made the disappointing morning all better.
 
In our one junior race where we did contest the sprint, Luke came into the final hill 6th wheel, which was too deep to win against boys who are a year older and much bigger than him.  As expected, the two 12 year olds, Alex and Isaac both punched it up the hill.  Luke got around the other riders, but could not come by Alex and Isaac, who went 1 and 2.  Luke finished 3rd.  Obviously, this day was filled with lots of positioning lessons and the value of being on the right wheel at the right time.  It was a great learning day.
  
On Sunday, we went up to race the awesome, but very dangerous, Dana Point Grand Prix.  With the Women Cat 3-4 race (Sarah and Moriah) in the morning and the NCC Pro 1-2 race (Rachel) in the afternoon, we were there all day.  As usual, there were brutal crashes in every race I watched.  I could not believe how many times they needed to bring out the ambulance.  That course is super fun, but also, super dangerous.  The Women Cat 3-4 race had a good turn out with 35 ladies taking the start.  They rode pretty hard for a Cat 3-4 race on this hilly, technical course, averaging a respectable 23.5mph.  Moriah came into the final corner 3rd wheel and was looking good for the win, but she swung way too early and died 50 meters before the finish, falling from 2nd back to 9th.  Sarah came into the final corner 6th wheel, which was too deep for my comfort level, but once again, Sarah amazed me.  She unleashed a killer sprint up the kicker hill finish, blowing by everyone except Libby Painter.  Sarah would take 2nd for the second day in a row, losing both times to Libby.  The 3 more upgrade points brings Sarah up to 16.  Outside of the crash that almost took out Moriah, it was an awesome race to watch.
 
At 1:30pm, Rachel took the start in her first NCC Pro 1-2 Criterium, alongside 10 of the fastest sprinters in the Nation.  The starting field of 53 powerhouse Women had over 20 riders with Crit scores in the 50’s and 60’s.  The pace was solid at 25.8mph, but could have been faster given the quality of the field.  That said, the wind and crashes took its toll on this very technical course.  Only 38 of the 53 starters finished the race.  Rachel foolishly chose to ride at the back, which was not wise given how windy it was and the plethora of fire power that was sitting up front waiting to explode.  Sure enough a hard attack 43 minutes into this 60 minute race gapped Rachel off the back on the wrong part of the course.  The strong cross winds ate her for lunch and snapped the elastic.  It was pretty frustrating for me because Rachel’s HR data shows she was doing fine physically (only 15 minutes of very low Zone 5 with no Red Zone) and I repeatedly told her to get up every lap as I knew a big attack was coming.  Rachel got pulled 50 minutes into the race, just 10 minutes short of the finish, when she had plenty left in the tank.  Ouch!  That said, this is the best way for her to learn the dangers of riding at the back, especially in a field of this caliber.  The finish was spectacular to watch.  It was an amazing demonstration of pure power!  Erica Allar 1st, Samantha Schneider 2nd, Kendall Ryan 3rd.  Strive On!

 
April 26th, 2015 - CBR #5
Sunday at CBR 5 proved to be just as entertaining as last week’s LA Circuit race. While the junior race fields were very small, and one of our wins was a “gimmie”, Strive Racing finished the day with 3 wins and 5 podiums. The two highlights of the day came from Luke and Sarah. In Luke’s first race, junior men 9-12, the promoter decided to race them with the junior men 15-16, making a combined field of 25 riders. Luke once again amazed us all by hanging with the 15-16 men in this very hilly crit all the way to the end. He was the only 9-12 rider that could hang with the 23.6 mph pace, recording his 7th win this season. Great job Luke! Our last race of the day was the Men’s cat 3/4, which had a starting field of 73 riders. All three girls took the start, and were the only women in the race. However the 26.3 mph pace, with that dreaded hill, proved to be too much for Mo, who got popped 13 minutes in. Rachel barely hung on and found herself dangling as the last rider a few times, but managed to make it until the end, finishing 58th. Psycho Sarah, who was on her third race of the day, once again shattered my expectations. Sarah rode incredibly well and never got anywhere near the back of the peloton. She spent the entire race in zone 5, but still had enough grit at age 14 to throw down with the cat 3 men in the final sprint. She finished in 48th place out of the 73 starters. Sarah has always had incredible heart, and it is such a joy to watch her compete, because she always leaves everything out there. Every time. Without fail. Strive on!
 
April 19th, 2015 - Los Angeles Circuit Race
Some race days are harder than others.  Some are more fun than others.  We knew Sunday was going to be a long day (3:00am to 9:30pm) when we saw that the race promoter had given us both the first and last race of the day.  We don’t complain about start times.  We are just thankful to race.  However, with the 160 mile one way trip up to Los Angeles, I was up at 3:00am.  I let the crew sleep in to 3:45am while I finished packing the van.  At 4:30am we were on the road and my wife and four kids quickly bailed on me, falling back to sleep.  They awoke just as we arrived at LA Circuit.
  
The first race was the Women’s 3-4 race, which saw a good sized field ride a decent pace of 22.6mph.  Last year, in this same race, a nasty 14 rider crash broke Moriah’s arm in two places, ruining her season.  Two others were hospitalized in that dramatic crash.  Moriah faced her fears, repeatedly zoomed by the crash site, and then threw down in the final sprint to take 4th out of the 42 starters.  Great job Mo!  Sarah rode strong as well, but with that tricky finish she ended up in the wind at 500m.  She blew up at 150m, falling from 1st to 17th.
  
Our next race was the W1-3, which saw a stacked field of 50 fast Women.  With only 7 Cat 3’s in the race, the Cat 1/2’s set a blistering pace of 25.0mph, as the cross winds began to blow.  With the wide finishing stretch, there were simply too many teams with multi rider lead out trains for solo Rachel to find the right wheel in the sprint.  She needed her sisters.  She finished in 20th.
  
While the first two races were fun, at 1:00pm things got really entertaining, as the Jr. Men 9-12, Jr. Men 13-14, and Jr. Women 9-14, all took off in one mass start.  Raced together, scored separately.  The wind was blowing pretty stiff now and Oz Mora decimated the field with repeated attacks, trying to drop the other fast 13-14 riders.  He was not able to do so.  However, he did drop of all but 6 of the 13-14’s, all of the 9-12’s except Luke, and all the women, minus the three fastest ones, Megan, Sarah, and Makayla.  Luke hung with the fast 13-14 boys all the way till the end, recording his 6th win of the season!  Sarah and Megan had another awesome sprint battle, and for the second straight race, Sarah held Megan’s sprint, losing to her by less than a bike.  It was a super fun race to watch.

At 3:45pm, things got even more entertaining, as Luke took the start with the 15-16’s.  Luke is still just 10 years old (Sept. 30th B-day) and pretty small for his age at just 62 lbs.  All of the other boys on the starting line were literally twice the size of Luke and it looked like David vs. Goliaths!  I figured that Luke would get dropped within the first two minutes and with the cross winds now howling, I knew that he would have a painful solo character building experience off the back.  Wow!  Was I ever wrong!  Luke amazed everyone, hanging with the 15-16 boys all the way until the last lap.  He even beat two of them.  Watching little Luke out there was pure amusement!  Lightning Luke is fast!

The last race of the day, the Junior Women 15-18, was just as exciting to watch, despite having only 5 riders in the race.  Two of the riders, including Mo, were dropped in the first half a lap and the race quickly became Sarah and Rachel from Strive vs. Megan from Monster Media Juniors.  Sarah had not yet beaten Megan this year in a Junior race, and she was on her third race of the day, so I did not think that she would be too much help in getting Rachel the win.  Once again, I was wrong.  Sarah ripped herself inside out to get a gap and stay off the front solo in very windy conditions for 2.5 laps.  As Rachel just sat on Megan, it became a 30 minute long Mano-a-Mano battle of Sarah vs. Megan, with Sarah sitting just 8-10 seconds out front, and both girls fighting the brutal wind, just as much as they were fighting each other.  It was a valiant effort by Sarah, but sure enough, with half a lap to go, Megan finally caught her.  Boom!  Rachel instantly swung and was gone.  She ended up winning by 30 seconds, but only because of Sarah’s amazing effort.  It was the team’s 13th win of the season.  Megan and Sarah then both tried to recover for the final sprint, to see who would get 2nd.  One more round of what had already been an epic fight.  I assumed Sarah’s 3:45am wake up time, third race of the day, and all that time off the front would leave her soft pedaling for 3rd.  But once again, I was wrong.  Sarah not only sprinted, but she led it out from 400m.  400m!  What???  Unbelievably, with one hour and twenty two minutes of Zone 5 (90% of max) already in her legs, and Megan glued tight on her wheel, Sarah continued to dig, deeper and deeper, until she hit 99% of her max HR and rode Megan off her wheel.  She ended up crossing the line with a huge gap and a huge smile.  It was the first time she had beaten Megan head to head.  Iron sharpens Iron.  Both of these girls will be on the podium at NATs.  We are very blessed to have such an amazing pool of talented racers out here in SoCal to race against.  2 on 1 is never a fun fight, but always a character building experience.  Hats off to Megan for fighting hard.

As expected, we got home at 9:30pm, totally wasted from our 18+ hour day.  As previously mentioned, some race days are harder than others.  Some are more fun than others.  Today, was both of those days.  Strive On!

April 5th, 2015 - San Dimas Stage Race and Ontario #4
Once again the kids battled staying healthy after Ontario, and once again, they went into another race (San Dimas) with no training.  Just like the Tour of Murrieta, Dimas is not the race to enter having not trained for three weeks.  The competition is just too high.  As expected, the girls all got schooled.  They did have lots of fun though, which is always our number one goal, despite having horrible results.  After Dimas, the kids were finally healthy and we got an awesome week of hard training in, complete with long fast rides, VO2 repeats, hill work, and core drills.  Wow, what a difference a little training can make.  At Ontario, Luke beat all of the 12 year olds, and the three boys who beat him last time, to take the win in the 9-12 race.  It was Luke's 5th win of the season and the teams 10th.  Then, in the 13-14 boys race, Luke was the only younger junior to hang with the lead group.  He finished 9th. 
 
Sarah had an amazing day.  For the first time this year in the Women’s 9-14 race, Sarah did not get dropped by Megan in the final sprint.  In fact, with 50 meters to go, Sarah swung on Megan and actually started coming by her, . . . . but she ran out of road!  She lost by about 1 wheel and came by Megan just after the finish line.  In the next race, the Women’s Cat 3-4, Sarah would get redemption, taking the win over both Megan and Moriah, and a solid field of 20 Ladies.  It was Sarah’s 2nd Cat. 3/4 win.  Moriah finished in 2nd and Megan in 5th.  In the Women’s 1-4 race, which had a field of 31, Rachel finished 6th.
  
In the last race of the day, Megan would strike back, taking the win in Women 15-18.  Megan came around the final corner 3rd wheel with her 2nd wheel lead out being the boy who won the sprint.  Rachel came around the corner in the very back of the pack and had no choice but to fight wind for 300 meters.   It took her 100m to pull even with the lead boy, but then he pulled off and 2nd wheel launched with Megan glued to his back wheel.  Rachel then watched Megan get pulled to victory by the boy in front of her, a re-occuring theme.  The only thing more impressive than Megan’s natural talent is her ability to get on, and stay on, the fastest boy in the race, heading into a final sprint.  She always finds the fastest boy wheel, gets on it early, and then does not give it up.  Today, she had multiple boys bumping her very hard for two whole laps, as everyone wanted the wheel that she had.  Megan was rock solid and very safe, bumping back like a pro with incredible poise and integrity, holding on to the wheel that would pull her to another 15-18 win.  While getting the right boys wheel certainly makes it easier to win, it is far from easy fending off a group of testosterone driven teenage boys who all want the wheel you have, especially on the last lap.  Megan is incredibly smart and very brave at the end of these mixed field races.  Great job Megan!
 
March 22nd, 2015 - Chuck Pontius and Ontario #3
Well the last couple of weeks of racing were definitely challenging for Strive.  We were just starting to make a little progress on form when all of the kids got sick.  So we headed into the Tour of Murrieta with no training that week, which is not good for this high intensity Women’s 1-3 race that always has a couple of Pro riders crash the party to keep things really fast.
   
That said, it was still a super fun race, despite the Crit and Road Race proving to be a little too fast for the girls, given their current form.  We did have two cool highlights from this race.  The first was Sarah’s time in the TT.  At just 14 years old, Sarah’s time of 12:55 was the third fastest time in our team’s 3 year history at this event.  Only Rachel’s 12:45 this year, and Hannah’s 12:27 from last year were faster.  However, both of their times were done at age 18!  Sarah will most likely have both of their times beat next year at age 15, which is very encouraging.  The second highlight was Mo in the road race.  As usual, the road race was very fast this year.  Even after getting neutralized for 2.5 minutes, the peloton still averaged over 24.0 MPH.   Moriah hung for over 1.5 hours this year (10 of the 12 laps), which was good progress.  The two previous years, she only hung for 3 and 5 laps respectively, so making it 10 was a good jump forward.  Next year, at age 17, she will definitely be there for the final sprint.

Murrieta unfortunately set the kids back in their sickness and once again we did zero training for the second week in a row, as we just rested the kids to get them better.  We then went and raced the Chuck Pontius Road Race on Saturday and then Ontario 3 on Sunday.  Unfortunately,  Saturday Rachel crashed at Chuck Pontius on some loose gravel, which pretty much ruined her results for the whole weekend.  She still raced Ontario, but her whole body was not happy from the previous day’s crash.  Sarah lost to Megan in Women 10-14 by 3 bike lengths and Moriah lost to Megan in Women 3-4 by 3 centimeters, simply because she did not drive it through the finish line!  With 30m to go, Moriah had the win by a bike length and thought she was good.  Ouch!  Won’t make that mistake again.  You never know when there might be a charging Megan behind you.  That said, Megan had an amazing day, winning all three races she entered.  Way to go Megan.  You rock!

This weekend is San Dimas.  We are very excited for this super fun stage race.
 
March 8th, 2015 - Valley of Fire SR and CBR #3
Valley of Fire is by far the most spectacular road race course on the SCNCA calendar. The stunning bright red rocks pop out of a dull barren landscape, with fiery intensity. The roads are perfect and the racing is awesome. In women 3/4, Katie Clouse from Utah showed up and dominated, winning both stages and the overall. Problems in the crit prevented good results in the overall, but Moriah would take 2nd in the road race with Sarah 4th, averaging a smoking fast 20.4 mph for the 2,200 feet of climbing. Rachel, whose form is still struggling took 6th out of the 8 riders in the women’s 1-3 overall, with a 4th in the crit and a 6th in the road race. 

This weekend we did CBR. Luke won his 5th race of the year and was the only younger junior to hang with the 13-14 boys till the final sprint, finishing strong for another top 10. In the two junior women races, Megan Jastrab easily took both wins once again. The best part of the day was when the three girls jumped into the 125 rider Men’s 3/4 field. The girls fought hard to hang with the 27.3 mph pace. They survived for 27 minutes, but got popped with 6 laps to go. At that point a sustained attack off the front blew all three girls out the back. Sarah, the only girl on her third race of the day, amazingly held on to the charging peloton the longest. Racing in a field of 125 men at that speed was an absolute rush for each of them. They had a blast! 

 
February 14th & 15th, 2015 - UCLA Road Race and CBR #2
The search for form continues. With the exception of Luke, the team remains slow. However, “racing to train” this hard, will eventually bear fruit. On Saturday at the UCLA Road Race the kids all did two races and climbed 5,700 feet. Luke and Moriah won their junior races, but the fields were small. Sarah got outsprinted by Megan once again. All four kids struggled in their second category races as their competitors had fresh legs. 

On Sunday we did our first CBR of the year, which is always a hoot. Love him, or hate him, Chris Lotts is pure entertainment, and puts of an outstanding race every time. The highlight here was when Sarah and Luke broke away from the twelve person field, eleven minutes into the race. The two of them ended up lapping half the field. After the race, Sarah half-jokingly said, “I don’t know how much longer I will be able to do that with Luke. He is getting strong!” In the older junior race, Moriah and Rachel broke away with Oz and two other boys, too go 1st and 2nd. All told, we came away with five wins on the weekend. Not too bad for being slow. 

 
February 8th, 2015 - Roger Millikan Memorial Grand Prix
Roger Milliken was such a fun race.  Lots of friends and lots of fun.  Unfortunately, not a lot of form yet, as the girls once again got schooled in their junior races by Megan Jastrab and Rachel Cross.  10 year old Luke (RA 11), on the other hand, is already showing good speed.  Once again, Luke won the 9-12 race, which had a field of 16 racers.  This win was extra special because he crashed on lap 1 when one of the first timers put him into the curb.  Shaken and a little dinged up he got to the pit, got his free lap, got back in, and then won!  

After that race, he then hung in till the end of the 13-14 boys race, which averaged 22.3mph.  However, this time he was there for the final sprint and beat 10 out of the 20 finishers.  Luke’s average HRs are now lower than all of his sisters and it takes everything they have to drop him.  Pretty scary!  Moriah showed a little improvement in her form this week taking 4th out of 40 Ladies in the Women’s 3/4 race, which averaged 22.7mph.  Sarah would take 15th in that same race.  Rachel still does not have a shred of form, nor the ability to go deep, but she is having fun and slowly getting back in shape.  She finished 18th out of the 36 racers, including Pro National Champion Coryn Rivera, in the Women’s 1-3 race, which averaged 24.0mph.  It was pretty amazing how easily Coryn outsprinted SoCal’s best sprinters to take the win.  

 
February 1st, 2015 - Boulevard Road Race and Red Trolley Criterium
Wow.  What an intense weekend of racing.  It was both a crash course, and a flash back, into the extreme racing life we have led for the last 5 years during the racing season.  We began with the Boulevard Road Race, which saw the most favorable weather conditions in years.  Moriah and Sarah tackled the Women’s 3-4 race, which had a starting field of 50 riders and 4,000 feet of climbing over 45 miles.  It was 48 degrees at the start and 52 degrees at the finish with very little wind.  Perfect for climbing!  Moriah would unfortunately flat for the second year in a row at this race.  Sarah, who has the heart of a lion, ripped her guts out, logging a staggering 1 hour and 29 minutes of Zone 5, which was good for 17.7mph and 19th place.  Wow!  Rachel tackled the Women’s 1-3 race with 17 other ladies, but unlike Sarah, she decided to just base build for the 67 miles with almost 6,000’ of climbing.  Logging only 4 minutes of low Zone 5 was great for finishing, but also only good for last place.
 
The next morning we were up at 4:30am to make the two early morning junior races at the Red Trolley Criterium, which was moved to the Qualcomm stadium parking lot?!?!  Can you say Cone Crashes!  It happened all day long.  In the 7:00am race, Sarah would take 4th in the 10-14 girls and Luke would take 2nd in the 10-12 boys.  Special congrats to Tommy Steiner who lit up an awesome final sprint to take the win in the boys race.  In the older junior race (13-14 boys / 15-18 girls) Rachel would take the win, with Mo getting 3rd and Sarah 4th.  Luke, for the first time ever, hung all the way till the end of a 13-14 boys race, and then actually beat a few of them in the final sprint, finishing 10th out of 14.  Sarah and Mo would then do the Women 3-4 race and Rachel would do the Women 1-3 race.  Both races were later in the afternoon.  Each of the Category races had starting fields of around 30 Ladies and average speeds just above 23 mph.  With Boulevard the day before, the 4:30am wake up, and the junior races in the morning, the girls had nothing left for their final sprints against the big ladies.  Rachel 14th, Sarah 22nd, Mo 23rd.  The highlight of the weekend was Sarah’s shattering of Moriah’s previous, and very impressive, 2 hour and 9 minute record for “Total Time Spent in Zone 5 for Two Consecutive Days.” Sarah posted an unbelievable 2 hours and 36 minutes of Zone 5 time this weekend!  Sarah, our Suffer Queen, will be walking kinda funny for a few days.  Strive On!


January 25th, 2015 - The Carlos Soto Memorial Criterium
Hello faithful blog followers! The 2015 racing season is upon us, and Strive Racing is excited to Strive On once again! Just like the previous two years our team took an extended off season, staying completely off the bikes for over two months. So far, the team has done a grand total of ten base building rides with zero intensity efforts. Once again the kids are slow and very out of shape. However, as we have seen from previous years, this is a very good thing both mentally and physically, as complete recovery yields tremendous gains in the long run. The kids all love to race, even when they don’t have a shred of form. So this weekend we headed up to do the Mothballs Crit, which is now called The Carlos Soto Memorial Criterium. The weather was spectacular and we had lots of fun seeing all of our old cycling friends for the first time in many months. In the older junior race, Rachel Cross easily took the win, and in the younger junior race, Makayla Macpherson easily took the win. The average speed in the older race for the girls was 23.6 mph, which unfortunately was very hard for the girls, given their current form, cooking them for the rest of the day. Luke, who was also in this race, set a new average speed record at 22.2 mph. At age 10 (RA 11) and at just 65 pounds, it was quite comical watching him hold the 17-18 boys for four laps. Luke would continue his solid effort in the second race, winning the 10-12 boys. Our last race of the day was the Women 1-3, which was an embarrassing joke. These women went 2.0 mph slower than 10 year old Luke did earlier in the day, and 4.0 mph slower than they did the year before, crawling at a none-race pace of 20.2 mph??? The women just wouldn’t race, which apparently happened the day before as well, at the Santa Barbara Road Race. On top of that, only 11 women took the start. None of this is good for the future of women’s racing. Moriah would finish 7th and Rachel 8th. With all the cash being offered at Boulevard, the race pace next weekend will be a very different story. With no form, the Strive ladies will be holding on for dear life and simply racing to train. Strive On!