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2016 Numbers:
2016 Events: 36
2016 Wins: 75
2016 Podiums: 119
Moriah's Cat 2 Upgrade Points:  34 (Needs 30)
Sarah's Cat 2 Upgrade Points:  36 (Needs 30)
Luke's Cat 3 Upgrade Points:  6 (Needs 20)
 
October 9th, 2016 - Pine Creek Challenge
The 6th Annual Pine Creek Challenge was the best one ever.  It was a perfect day for that unique, bonding ritual that takes place between cyclists, when they share the same suffering experience.  100 miles.  10,000 feet of climbing.  20% grades.  40 Starters.  23 Finishers.  Gorgeous mountains.  Amazing volunteers.  Down-to-earth, super cool, cyclists.  Sweet post ride party.  Wife’s home-made cooking for 50.  All of it . . . simply incredible.  However, the post ride fellowship, especially with the juniors? . . . . . Absolutely priceless! 

Here are the stats:
Starters:  40
Men:  31
Women:  9
Juniors:  9 
Finishers:  23  (58%)
DNFs:  17 (42%)
Men Finishers:  16 out of 31 (52%)
Women Finishers: 7 out of 9 (78%)
Junior Finishers:  7 out of 9 (78%)
Low Temp:  49 degrees
High Temp:  85 degrees
Fastest Avg. Speed:  17.2 mph (Adam Pacal solo!)
Slowest Avg. Speed:  13.6 mph

While the PCC is always a ton of work, and we always end up losing a little bit of money, this event is always a highlight of our year.  This year we had biggest turnout and the best weather in our 6-year history.  40 riders took the start at 7:45am.  While it was a little brisk, once the riders hit Pine Creek 30 minutes into the ride, everyone was sweating.  The 3,000 feet of climbing and 20% grades of Pine Creek took their toll, claiming the first 5 DNFs.  

This year we added a KOM and QOM prize at the top of Pine Creek.  Adam Pacal and Shannon Castle-Traughber took the honors.  While everyone was supposed to slow down after the first climb and fellowship, the top four men just had too much testosterone pumping and wanted to keep battling each other.  In and out of the Aid Stations in a flash, they ended up racing each other for the entire 100 miles and 10,000 feet of climbing.  The top four riders stayed within 5 minutes of each other for the first 7,000 feet of climbing, but then Adam Pacal put the hammer down, pulling away from Shawn, Ben, and Neil to finish a good 15 minutes before anyone else.  He set the fastest avg. speed ever at the PCC (17.2mph), and he did it solo, with hairy legs!  Very impressive.  With 5 Aid Stations and only 2 Aid Station crews, it was quite the challenge to stay in front of him, as the majority of the riders were cruising at a “smell the roses” pace, and we could not shut down the Aid Stations until the last rider was serviced.  However, our awesome Aid Station team just barely got Adam serviced on the final climb.
  
Kitchen Creek was a little warm down low at 85 degrees, but toward the top it cooled off to a very nice 73 degrees.  The 3,500 foot 6% climb claimed an additional 10 DNFs.  The 20-mile trip down the backside of Mt. Laguna and over to the third and final climb, Engineers Rd., claimed the final 2 DNFs.  The 23 brave souls who tackled the final climb with its sustained 13% finish, refused to DNF at that point, as they all wanted to finish the ride.  All of them made it safely down the sketchy HYW 79 descent without incident.  Amen!

While the powerful mountains, beautiful trees, and spectacular skies were all breathtaking yesterday, what made the event so enjoyable was the support team and the sweet rider fellowship.  I cannot thank these awesome support people enough for helping us serve all day:  Lois Robbins (Dawn’s Mom) Dawn Swan, Erin Steiner, Dee Lochmiller, Jen Roberts, Derek Steiner, and Ryan Oelrich, most of whom faithfully worked this event for over 10 hours, just to give back and bless others.  With their positive, loving demeanors, they encouraged and served the riders all day long.  Their special hearts, combined with the appreciative demeanors of the riders, made for a truly unique comradery and happy day for all.

It never ceases to amaze me how quickly the suffering faces at the finish line fade away, and how fast the laughter begins, as the riders eat, drink, and merrily swap stories from the day at the post ride party.  Seeing all of the happy hearts at the end of the day brings joy to my soul.  As the sun began to set and most all of the riders were long gone, 7 juniors sat in a very tight circle, face to face, playing nothing but verbal word games.  Dingy from all the climbing and jacked up on Mt. Dew and Coke, they repeatedly busted out in hysterical laughter.  The four sets of parents just sat there watching, perfectly entertained, thankful and totally blessed, watching their kids have so much fun, bonding together after an epic day.  It was the perfect emotional exclamation point, to a perfect, Pine Creek Challenge.  Strive On!

June 29th, 2016 - NATs Prelude
It is Wednesday night, the night before the first National Championship race, and we are all here in sticky Louisville Kentucky (pronounced with a thick southern draw like this, . . .  “Lew-Vill”).  The team is super excited and trying hard to calm down and clear our minds, so that we can get a good night sleep before the TT tomorrow.  For the first time at NATs since 2010 in Bend, OR, we do not have any injured or sick riders.  Luke has 5 tweaked/missing teeth from a bad crash three weeks ago, but he is fine everywhere else.  Everyone is healthy.  Thank God.

As far as expectations for this year’s NATs, we only have two.  One, we expect everyone to strive to the best of their ability in each of the three races, leaving it all out there, so that they have no regrets.  Two, we expect them to have fun, lots of fun, which is always our number one goal.  As far as result goals are concerned, we let the kids set their own.  

17 year old Moriah, who is at the bottom of her 17-18 division, has the toughest field, which includes a number of young women who have been beating up on the Pros as of late.  The 30 Ladies that make up Moriah’s 17-18 division this year are extremely fast.  A top 10 finish for Moriah against a field of this caliber would be very impressive.  That is her goal.  

15 year old Sarah is also at the bottom of her age division.  She too has a strong field of 32 riders.  Making the podium at the bottom of your age division at NATs is always tough, but Sarah has done it twice in years past.  Her very lofty goal is to make the podium in all three races.  While Sarah’s form is pretty good right now, there are still 10 people in each race that can beat her.  One podium would be a very good result for her and move her “consecutive years with a podium at NATs” streak up to 5.  

Luke is the one rider on the team at the top of his age division.  Luke only has 4 riders in his 31 person field that beat him last year at NATs, so in theory, he should still make the 5 person podium in at least one of the three races.  Luke’s form is outstanding right now and he has set his goal at winning all three races.  The last time he was at the top of his age division at NATs, he won 1 of the 3 races, and finished 2nd in the other two races.  But this year, his field is almost 3 times as large, and each year the competition gets faster.  Thus, winning 3 National Championships is most likely a pipe dream, but that’s OK.  Dream big Luke!  Shoot for the stars!  Strive with everything you got!
 
With all the excitement, it is going to be tough going to bed tonight.  Can’t wait for tomorrow.  More to come.  Check back.

May 21st -June5th  -  The Last 6 Months
Hello faithful blog readers.  I know, I know, . . . I have not been a faithful blog writer.  Sorry.  Work has been very hard and life has been crazy.  The good news is that the racing has been awesome.  The team racked up a staggering 23 wins in the last month and a half, and more importantly had tons of fun!  
We began with the Individual State Time Trial Championships.  The ITT State Championships has always a good mile marker for the team’s form going into Nationals.  The first rider off was Luke, who was eager to win his third State Championship in the TT.   His course was a mere 6 miles with a strong tail wind that made for some fast times.  Luke won his TT by over two minutes with a time of 12:53.  After Luke’s race, Sarah took the start gate for the first time on a funny bike.  Sarah has always been our “Suffer Queen” in cycling, which usually makes for a good time trial-ist.  Sarah, who was unfortunately the only girl in her division, threw down a blazing fast time of 43:43, which at age 15 is simply amazing.  Her time was only 36 seconds slower than the Rachel’s 43:07, which is the team record she set when she was three years older.  Rachel’s time was the course record until Summer Moak came along.  Moriah, who has always hated the time trial, had two tough competitors, with the reigning 15-16 National Champion in the Time Trial, Summer Moak, and Rachel Cross who is a year older than Mo.  Determined to get 2nd to Summer, Moriah dug deep to post a time of 47:16 and take 2nd place by 18 seconds.  That was close!   Way up the road Summer Moak set the new course record with a 41:30. Way to go Summer!  It was pretty cool that Sarah, who is two years younger than Summer, was only 4.8% slower than her with her 43:43.  There is no doubt that Sarah will be good at the TT.
The following day was the Jurupa Valley Criterium.  The race of the day was the 9-12 boys.  3 laps into the race Luke once again shot off the front with a solo attack.  He held off the three person chase group to get the win by about a minute.  At that same time Moriah was racing with the 15-16 men which started 30 seconds ahead of Luke’s race. She held her own with these fast boys all the way to the finish.  Great job Momo!  The woman 3-4 and woman 1-3 was the team’s next race.  They were raced-together-scored-separately to make for a fast finish, in which Sarah won the 3-4s, and Moriah got 5th in the 1-3s.  In the final race, all three kids were racing together, Luke, in the 13-14 men, and Sarah and Mo in the 15-18 women. Knowing he could not outsprint the bigger 14 year olds, with 400 meters to go, Luke took a flyer.  Unfortunately it was very short lived.  He got swept up and shot out the back.  Overall it was an outstanding  weekend for the team.
The following weekend we went to see our good friend Steve Barnes and race his Death Valley Omnium, which had 3 stages and 14,000 feet of climbing over two days.  With Luke and Mo not having any competitors, there were a lot of gimmie wins here to pad the stats.  However, Sarah had a field of 7 in the Women 1-4.  Sarah slayed the climbs, winning all three stages and the overall.  The highlight of this race was Luke.  For the first stage, they had him race with the Women.  Luke dropped all of the Women and crossed the finish line 6 minutes ahead of the first place Women, which was Sarah.  So for the 2nd and 3rd stages, they let Luke start with the Cat 4/5 Men, who had a field of 11.  Luke shocked everyone, finishing in 3rd place on Stage 2, and then in 2nd place in Stage 3, which had 5,500 feet of climbing after doing 8,200 feet of climbing the day before!  Luke can climb.  While his wins were gimmies because there were no other juniors at the event, Luke battled hard against the Cat 4’s and earned his win stats.  

The next day, we decided to hit CBR on the way back to San Diego.  All three kids began with the Men’s Cat 4 race, which had a field of 46 riders.  The pace was fast at 26.2mph, but all three kids hung until the final sprint.  Sarah finished in 42nd, Moriah in 37th, and Luke blew my mind with a 15th place finish.  What?!?!?  One hour later, the girls wanted to try the Men’s Cat 3 race, which had a starting field of 60, and raced for an entire hour.  OUCH!  The pace was brutal at 26.7mph and I was convinced there was no way they could hang.  Not only did they hang until the end, but they also avoided two crashes on the last lap to finish in 37th and 35th.  At this point, they were totally wasted physically, but really wanted to do the last race of the day, the Women 1-3.  After 14,000 feet of climbing across Saturday and Sunday and then 1:45 minutes of 26+mph earlier in the day, it is a wonder they both made the final sprint in the Ladies race.  Mo finished in 10th and Sarah in 8th out of the 14 riders.  Our brutal, but very fun, weekend was finally done.
The next weekend we raced the State Championship RR.  Quite depressingly, Moriah had a field of 2, Sarah a field of 5, and Luke a field of 7.  All three kids won, Luke and Mo by breakaway, and Sarah by final sprint against Kenze.  The kids wanted to keep racing, so we let Luke hop in the Cat 4 road race, which was very hard after his solo break-away effort earlier in the day.  The 29 Cat 4’s ripped it at 24.4mph.  Luke rode awesome and finished 21st place.  The final race of the day was the Women 1-3 race.  With both Hannah and Rachel back for the summer, it was the first time in over 2 years that the four sisters got to race together.  While Sarah and Mo were pretty thrashed from their 25 mile junior race in the morning, they impressed me finishing in 10th and 5th respectively out of the 15 starters.  Rachel and Hannah finished in 14th and 4th.  It was very cool to see the girls all racing together again.
The next day we raced the San Marcos Criterium, which would be the last race of our 5 week Meso-Cycle before heading into our rest week.  Luke kicked things off with the 13-14 race, which had a small field of 7 riders.  Before today, 11 year old Luke (RA12) had never even made the podium in the 13-14 division.  But this Crit had a hill!  On the last lap, Luke unleashed everything he had on that hill, dropping everyone hard.  He crossed the finish line 100m in front of 2nd place.  Wow!  It was unbelievable.  However, after he exited the course and was circling back down a side road to get to roll out, a friend reached out to high five Luke.  Luke, who was still in VO2 land and seeing stars, reached out for the high five.  While he made the high five, his hand then fell down and got sucked into his wheel/fork, instantly stopping his front wheel and sending him over the bars face first into a nasty face plant that knocked out 1 tooth and broke off 4 more.  Thank God we got great dental insurance through my work!  While his smile will be a little bit scary for a while, Luke will eventually have perfect teeth again.

The accident happened at the perfect time, as the team really needed a full recovery rest week.  We ended up taking 10 days off the bike and letting the kids bodies totally heal.  Rest weeks always fascinate me, watching how each person’s bodies respond.  After a little dip, Mo and Luke popped back up to their previous numbers.  Sarah’s body is still trying to wake back up.  This last weekend we went out to Victorville to give the kids a taste of some racing in the heat before NATs.  Each of them did the 42 mile road race with 1,300 feet of climbing on Saturday and then the Crit on Sunday.  Sarah’s body was still not responding.  Luke and Mo did outstanding.  Mo hung with the 17-18 boys until the last mile and finished 4th out of 7 riders.  Luke raced the Cat 4’s, who had a field of 21 riders.  Each lap on the circuit, the lead group shrunk until it was down to just 5 riders.  Amazingly Luke hung in this lead group all the way to the finish, taking 5th place and averaging a sick 23.7mph for the 42 mile race.  The following day, Luke would once again amaze me beating half of the 17-18 field, taking 6th place out of the 12 riders.  Luke’s speed is at an all-time high and he is super excited for NATs.  Sarah and Mo did the Cat 3 Crit and finished at the back of the pack.  NATs is next.  Cannot wait.  Strive On!

 
May 14th-15th, 2016 - Kern County Stage Race
There are only a handful of people that do amazing things for our SoCal junior racers, working extremely hard to bless the future of our sport. David Pulliam and Jeff Shein come to mind. Well, Sam Ames is another one of these special people. His brand new, 3 Stage, Kern County Junior Stage Race was one of the best races we have ever done, and as most of you know, we have done quite a few of them. Incredible courses, mentoring programs for the newer riders, well executed, well staffed with cool people, real value prizes ($600 worth for our team alone), and by far the hottest trophies of the year, . . . Sam deserves much praise. With the money he spent to do this race the right way, he probably did not make any money given how low the registration numbers were. I can only hope he does this race again next year, as it was a ton of fun! The time trial circled around the outside of the stadium before shooting right through a high speed underground tunnel that shot the riders out into the infield of the race track. The Crit made incredible use of the whole race track and infield, going both up, and then straight down the 16% side walls into the infield for a pure thrill ride on perfectly smooth asphalt. Watching the Crits from the elevated grand stands was so cool, as you could see the entire course. The road race was out on the epic Vlees Huis Ronde RR course, which is one of the best RR courses in SoCal, with real climbs. I strongly encourage all Juniors to add this race to their calendar for next year. Thank you Sam for all your hard work. Oh ya, . . . . and the kids rode great. Strive On!

April 16th - 17th, 2016 - San Luis Rey Road Race and LA Circuit Race

It had been a long time since the team had raced 104 miles in one weekend. With only short training rides under our belt, I knew it would be a very hard weekend for the team, especially for Sarah who was in a bad mountain bike crash two weeks prior, and has been doing nothing but healing.  Unexpectedly, it turned out to be an amazing weekend with a number of very exciting moments.  

We began the weekend on Saturday at the San Luis Rey Road Race, where all three kids did 44 miles with 2,000 feet of climbing on a three lap course. The 15-18 girls, which only had a field of four including Moriah, was raced with the Women 3-4, which had a field of 23 riders, including Sarah. The 27 ladies set a respectable pace of 20.5 mph.  Each lap on the finishing climb the lead group was trimmed down. Then, on the last lap, fireworks ensued, and a final selection of six riders got clear.  Sarah’s hip and back were too sore from her crash to make this group, but Moriah made it. The other five ladies in the break were all in the Women 3-4 race, so Moriah did not contest the sprint.  It was awesome to see Moriah’s form starting to emerge, seeing her in a winning breakaway again, and recording her 5th win of the season. Way to go Mighty Mo!  Sarah was in the first chase group about 1 minute back.  She finished in 10th. 

With the only junior men’s field being a combined 15-18 race, we knew Luke would be taken to the rivet once again. At the end of the first lap, a breakaway of seven riders had a thirty second gap over the first chase group, which to my astonishment, contained Luke after a smoking fast 39 minute lap.  The 7 rider break stuck, and after the second lap, the chase group had been cut in half.   I was convinced Luke would be gone, but once again, he was there.  What?!?!  He held on to this first chase group until 3/4ths of the way up the final climb, when he finally blew.  He finished one minute behind the group in 16th place.  He was seriously cooked after the race, but had a blast hanging with the big boys.  Little Luke, at just 11 years old, finished his race over 7 minutes faster than the Women’s 3/4 winner.  Wow! 

The next day was the LA Circuit Race. Once again, Brad House “blessed” us with both the first and last race of the day. Tired and sore from San Luis Rey, we were up at O-dark-30 so that we could make the Women’s 3-4 race on time. The early start effected registration, and only 23 ladies took the start.  Hint Hint Brad House.  This is less than half of what it was a few years ago. With Moriah’s form showing some promise at San Luis Rey the day before, we decided to set the sprint up for her, instead of the injured Sarah. I asked Sarah before the race if she could do a 100 meter lead-out for Mo, and she said that she would try, but sprinting hard still hurt her hip.  With three hundred meters to go, right on que, Sarah broke right with Mo in tow. She pulled Momo past a few riders and then blew, just as Mo swung. It was beautiful. Moriah looked like the Mighty Mo of old, throwing down an awesome final sprint that beat everyone except Ivy Koester. Momo 2nd, and Sarah 13th after an awesome lead-out.  Great job Ladies! 

No rest for the weary, 25 minutes later, the girls tackled 24 more miles in the Women’s 1-3 race against a field of excellent sprinters. With the miles of this brutal weekend now just shy of 90, I was very pleased to see Sarah finish in 10th place and Moriah in 13th place out of the 23 starters. The girls finally got a little rest at that point and it was time for Luke to give it a go.  At 1 pm, Luke took the line in the 9-12 race, which unfortunately only had a field of 7 riders. Once again, Luke attacked early.  Once again, he got away solo.  Luke rode very hard and focused the entire race, and when he crossed the line, he ended up winning by four and a half minutes. Wow.  Great job Dude Bro!  By 3:30pm, the team was totally wasted, but we had one more race to stick around for; the women 15-18 / men 15-16 combo, which was raced together and scored separately. With baked potatoes for legs, we knew this one was going to really hurt, as the 15-16 boys had a very strong field of 22 riders.  In windy conditions, the boys lit the race up with attack after attack, averaging a painful and surgey 23.2 mph. With the girls now on their fourth race of the weekend, and total miles clearing the 100 mile mark, I figured they would get dropped at that speed. With Luke’s painful 15-18 race the day before and his 33 minute TT win earlier, I assumed the same fate for him.  With the pace of this last race, it would have been very understandable.

I was so stoked to see all of them make it to the end with the lead group and even engage in the final sprint, after what was a very painful race for each of them. Sarah finished 2nd to Megan and Mo finished 5th. Luke, once again blew my mind, finishing with the leaders in 15th place out of the 22 starters.  
 
It was an intense, hard, but super fun weekend of racing.  I am so thankful that we have this awesome sport to do as a family.  Strive on!

April 1st - 3rd, 2016 - San Dimas Stage Race
Wow, . . . . . what an insane weekend!  This weekend felt so much like Nats it was crazy.  On the Women’s side, Sarah and Moriah lined up with 40 Ladies for Women’s 3/4, 22 of which were Cat 3’s.  In addition to some of the strongest local Cat 3 Women, Megan Jastrab, Katie Clouse, and Makayla MacPherson, all of whom having swept all 3 Road National Championship Races in a given year, were in the field.  Moriah, who is still coming around on her form finished 21st in the TT, 19th in RR, and 20th in the Crit, which was good for 18th in final GC.  Sarah’s who was coming off two weeks of recovery with virtually no training got stronger each race, finishing 15th in the TT, 7th in the RR, and 5th in the Crit.  Because the GC was on total time, her bad TT killed a top 10 finish, leaving her in 14th.  The racing was good and hard for a Women’s 3/4 field.  The Road Race averaged 20.3mph, with 3 very long neutralizations.  The Crit averaged 23.8mph, which is excellent for a Women’s 3/4 field, especially given the climb on the course.  The girls did great and had a blast racing their bikes.  

While the Women’s racing was awesome to watch, the biggest thrills came from Luke.  With a September 30th birthday, Luke will be 11 years old for six more months.  Putting him into an official USAC National Talent Identification Stage Race for 15-16 junior men, where top tier riders come from around the country to strut their stuff in front of the USAC brass could easily be viewed in a negative light for many reasons.  That said, Luke really wanted to do this race, despite knowing he would not beat anyone, nor make it past the two time cuts.  I tried mutiple times to talk him out of it, but  he was determined to give it a go, so I let him.  His field of 51 “young men” was filled with cycling studs from 10 different states, many of whom weighed twice Luke’s whopping 70 pounds.  To my amazment, Luke survived the two time cuts, beat 5 riders in the Crit, 10 riders in the Road Race, and 15 riders in the uphill Time Trial, placing him 39th in final GC out of the 51 starters.  He became the youngest finisher ever of the San Dimas Stage Race.  More importantly, Luke ha d an absolute blast racing his bike at the next level.  It was a priceless experience for him.  Strive On! 

March 26th & 27th, 2016 - Nine Mile Omnium and Jurupa Valley Crit
What an awesome weekend of racing we had.  We began the weekend off by supporting our good friend Steve Barnes by racing his 9 Mile Omnium race, which has two stages in one day.  Sarah ended up not having a competitor in her division Women 3/4. However, she was raced together with the other Juniors, and the Cat 4 and Cat 5 men.  After going to deep trying to stay with really good climbers, Sarah started throwing up after spending too much time in VO2 land.  Her stomach would not stop revolting and she continued to throw up every few minutes throughout the 5,000 feet of climbing, but was determined to finish the race, which she did.  That’s my psycho Sarah?!?!  Moriah had one competitor in Women 15-18, a strong local climber from Bishop named Meade Plum.  Meade easily out climbed Moriah in Stage One to take the win.  However, the omnium points at this event were set up so that if Moriah could win stage two, she would win the over-all by 1 point.  The two of them battled really hard in the second race, repeatedly attacking each other, averaging 23.3mph.  It came down to a final sprint, where my Mighty Momo threw down like days of old in an awesome final sprint, taking the win by 5 bike lengths, which gave her the over-all win as well by 1 point.  Super cool. 

Luke only had one competitor in 9-12 men, a really nice young man from Colorado.  Luke beat him in stage one (the climb), but with the point system favoring stage two, if Luke did not win Stage two, he would lose the over-all.  As his competitor had bigger legs than Luke, we were a bit concerned as to whether or not he could out sprint him. Luke tried repeatedly but could not drop him in the flat road race.  The two of them then had an epic final sprint battle from 250m, side by side, both throwing very hard the whole way.  In the last 25m, Luke just pulled ahead of him to take the Stage Two win, and win the over-all.  Both finishes were super fun to watch.
 
The next morning we raced Jurupa Valley.  Luke kicked things off in the Jr. Men 9-12 race, which had a field of less than 10 riders.  On lap 3 Luke broke a way and stayed away to take the win.  In the 13-14 race which followed, Luke finished 9th out of the 18 riders.  Sarah and Mo’s first race was the Women 3-4 race, which had 14 riders.  Sarah finished in 3rd and Moriah in 6th in a pretty uneventful, but still very hard race that averaged 23.2mph.  Great job to 13 year old Makayla Macpherson who threw down an amazing sprint to take the win.  Makala and Megan are going to have some awesome battles this year at both Road and Track Nationals.  
 
The highlight of the day was the very last race, which was Luke’s 13-14 race and the Women 15-18 race.  While the women’s race only had 4 riders, including Sarah and Mo, the 22 person field was raced together.  Apparently feeling better from her 5,000 feet of climbing and puke fest from the day before, not to mention the Women’s 3-4 race which immediately preceded this race, Sarah decided to attack the 22 rider field solo.  Amazingly, not only did she stay away, but she was the only rider to not get lapped by the 17-18 Men. With both Sarah and Luke winning via solo breakaway the weekend was going incredibly well. Dawn, my amazing wife, joined us for the whole weekend and after racing the five of us attended Calvary Chapel Chino Hills, where we listened to pastor Jack Hibbs give an outstanding Easter message. It was great weekend.        

 
February - 27th-28th, 2016 - Boulevard Road Race and Jurupa Valley Crit
This weekend of racing was so much fun, as both Sarah and Luke started showing signs of old form, making for some very exciting racing.  There is still a lot of work to do, but progress is definitely being made.
 
Sarah and Mo got things kicked off at the Boulevard Road Race.  In 20 years of riding at Boulevard, I have never seen such a perfect day.  The Women’s 3/4 race went off at 7:20am in sunny skies, with no wind, in a perfect 56 degrees, which quickly warmed up to 75 degrees.  With 45 miles and 4,000 feet of climbing on tap, the girls went off in shorts and a jersey.  What?!?!  Having done this race while it was snowing (literally), we were extremely thankful for the perfect conditions.   Boulevard essentially has one long decent and then two medium length climbs per lap. 
 
This year, there were close to 40 ladies that took the start for the two lap race, and they were fast!  By the end of the first climb, the lead group was already down to 23 riders, and I painfully watched Moriah, who was in 24th, come off the lead group literally 25m before they crested.  Ouch!  At the end of the second climb, the lead group was down to 14 riders and Sarah was still there, looking strong.  Two climbs later, as they approached the uphill finish, the lead group was down to 10.  I was convinced that Sarah was going to win because of the steep, uphill finish.  Then, with 800m to go, . . . . crash!  No!  Gotta love Women 3/4!
 
2 Ladies hit the deck hard and 3 more, including Sarah plowed into them and unclipped.  5 Ladies avoided the crash and were gone.  Other than the two on the ground, Sarah was the last rider out of the chaos, and now sitting in 8th.  She buried herself for those steep 800m, caught back up to and dropped 7th and 6th, and was closing on the leaders.  The 5 riders who avoided the crash hit the finishing line with Sarah just 25m behind them.   6th place.  Uuuuugh!  Oh well, that’s racing.  Renee Robinson took the win with an awesome final sprint.  Great job Renee!  Sarah increased her average speed from 17.7mph the year before to a smoking fast 19.3mph, which was very encouraging.  Her form is definitely returning.
 
The next day we tested out the new Jurupa Valley crit.  Luke got things started in the Jr. Men 9-12 race, which saw 10 riders take the start.  5 laps in, Luke attacked and established a solo break-away.  With a strong chase group of 3, he did not get too far, but he was able to hold them off and take the win by about 20 seconds.  Tyler was 2nd and Evan was 3rd.  The next race was the Women 3/4 race, which only saw 12 Ladies take the start.  This race was very uneventful and had a big group blob finish that the girls did not get right.  Sarah 3rd and Mo 10th.  The last race was the Women 15-18 and Men 13-14 combo.  The former only had Sarah, Kay, and Mo, who finished in that order.  Luke finished 9th out of the 21 riders in the Men 13-14 race.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to Andy Alvarez who was taken away in an Ambulance after a bad crash.  We hear that he will be OK and hope to see him out racing again soon.  Strive On! 

February - 13th-14th, 2016 - UCLA Road Race and Roger Milliken Crit
With the kids speed still down over 5% from last year, form is still a long way off.  That is price we pay each year for taking an extended off-season.  However, it is a price that I am more than willing to pay.  Over the years, I have become far more patient, knowing that the speed will eventually return.   Thus, for now, we simply “race to train” without expectations.  We began the weekend at the UCLA Road Race.  Sarah and Moriah did the Women’s 3-4 race, which had 38 miles, 4,200 feet of climbing, and a solid field of 24 Ladies.  Unfortunately, Moriah flatted her tubie and I had to go rescue her.  Sarah finished in 11th place, bringing her average speed up 0.7mph from the week before, which was on essentially the same distance and climbing.  It was good progress for Sarah.  Luke bravely tackled the Men’s Cat 4 race, which had 50 miles and 5,500 feet of climbing.  The lead group was way too fast for Luke, but he rode well, finishing in 28th out of the 38 starters.

The next day we went to the Roger Milliken Crit.  Luke was pretty cooked after all the climbing the day before, but still managed to take the win in the 9-12 race, after a close final sprint battle against Tyler who rode very strong.  In the 13-14 race, Luke was able to stay with the lead group of 8, but had nothing left for the final sprint.  He finished 8th out of the 15 starters.  After getting cooked by the 26 riders in the Men’s 15-18 race, the girls got blessed with a recovery race in the Women’s 15-18, as all of the other Ladies were at VOS.  After a long, hard weekend of racing, we had one race left.  The Women’s 3-4 race, witch saw a staggering 41 Ladies take the start.  The Women’s 3-4 race is always a bit of an adventure.  More often than not, there are crashes and today would be no different.  In fact, the Ladies did not even get through one lap without the first crash.  However, the crash on the last lap was one of the biggest I have seen in a Women’s race, as 15 Ladies hit the deck, 7 of them hard enough not to finish.  Sarah was up, entering corner 3 in great position, but the peloton was full gas coming off that little downhill and someone up front either clipped pedal or just washed out.  Bodies and bike went flying and very few riders made it through that corner unaffected.  Sarah locked them up and tank swapped into the curb, but came out without real injury.  Mo had to brake, but also did not go down.  Others were not so fortunate and there were some bad injuries.  The girls finished in 11th and 16th.  Gotta love Women 3-4. 

February - 6th, 2016 - Tuttle Creek Road Race
With the kids desperately needing some base building miles, we headed off this weekend to go see our good friend Steve Barnes and support his 3rd annual Tuttle Creek Challenge.  The fields were small.  The total number of riders across all races combined was somewhere around 40 riders total.  The races kicked off in a brisk 31 degrees, but with no wind, crystal clear skies, and 4,500 feet of climbing on tap, the kids eventually warmed up.  We just love climbing our bikes up in the Bishop area.  It is so incredibly beautiful up there.  After the races, where the kids finished 1st, 1st, and 2nd, they all kept riding to get in some extra miles.  By the end of the ride it was 55 degrees and still perfectly calm.  The surrounding snow caped mountains glimmered in pristine beauty.  It was hard to leave!  Super fun day.

January 30th - 31st, 2016 - Santa Barbara RR and Carlos Soto Crit
2016 is here and Strive Racing is excited to “Strive On!” into our 7th year of racing.  It’s hard to believe, but after six long years, we are not even half way done with our junior racing.  It’s a 13-year-long road for us, but we would not trade it for anything in the world.  Hannah and Rachel are now both back in TN attending Milligan College, while the younger three are still under our roof and are thrilled to keep racing their bikes.
 
For those of you who have read this blog for the last 5 years, you know that we are strong advocates of taking a real off season.  We believe that kids need to be kids.  Their bodies and brains need time off to experience full recovery.  Each year after road season ends, we hang up the racing bikes, come off race diet, and step away from the intensity of training/racing.  It is a refreshing time of rejuvenation that prevents both mental burn out and physical injury.  Each year our off season seems to get longer and longer.  This year we extended it literally to the whistle of the Santa Barbra Road Race.  What?!?!  Base Miles???  Whoooops.  In the last 20 weeks, we did a total of 14 rides.  8 were on mountain bikes, 6 were on road bikes, and most of them, were just short fun fellowship rides.  Just like in the previous years, weight was gained, and all form was completely lost.  We know the form will eventually come back over the next 3 months.
 
While we should not really be racing with no base miles under the belt, the kids really wanted to go this weekend and see all their friends.  So for better or for worse, we headed off for the road race on Saturday and Crit on Sunday. Luke got things started in the CAT 4 Men’s road race.  Luke, who has been sick for the entire last month, got hit the hardest on speed by this off-season.  His sisters can actually beat him again right now.  I figured he would get dropped in the first 10 minutes.  He ended up hanging on to the field for 35 minutes, coming unhitched right at the top of the climb. He crossed the start/finish line at 38:35, which was a very respectable lap time, and only 1 minute behind the peloton.  Unfortunately, he would flat 5 minutes later and I would have to go find him on the back side of the course.  Sarah really surprised me, hanging on to the lead group of the Woman’s 1-3 field until mile 55 (out of 57).  Just like Luke, she came off right before the final descent into the finish.  It was a great first day of racing, where the kids got to experience the adrenaline rush of racing once again, and see many of their old cycling friends.
 
The next morning was the Carlos Soto Memorial Crit. We woke up to cold temperatures and a mild rain.  Three hours later, As the whistle blew for the Jr. Race, the rain was quickly intensifying.  Approximately 40 juniors, across 5 different divisions, started together as the course began to flood.  Half way through the race, corner 1 had become a four foot wide rushing stream that was pretty deep.  Sarah hung with the lead group of 15-18 boys and their smoking fast 24.5mph pace, to take the win in the Women’s 15-18 race.  Luke also road well, taking the win in the Jr. Men’s 9-12 race.
 
It took us a few hours to ring the kids out and warm them up, but by 4:00pm Sarah was ready to go again in the W 1-4 race, which saw 17 ladies take the start.  The skies had cleared, but the winds were howling, with gusts up to 40mph.  Unlike last year, when the women did not engage at all, this year’s race saw attacks on almost every lap. Multiple breaks of 2 to 5 riders continued to get away from the peloton.  However the brutal winds and a strong, cohesive peloton kept any of them from sticking.  With just a few laps to go, PC and Shannon broke away once again. Each of them had made most of the previous breaks and already done a ton of work, and this time there was only the two of them.  But the race was almost over and they were ready to go down in a blaze of glory. These two Ladies slayed themselves to open up an 8 second gap. They took bell to a cheering crowd on this very short course with a 3-4 second gap over the peloton.  It was bike racing at its finest!  PC and Shannon rounded the last corner and shot for the line, only to get consumed by the charging pack with 200 meters to go. OUCH!  You two “Dudes” are animals!  Sarah dug deep and was able to pull out a 5th  place finish.  Given her current form, the 57 mile road race the day before, and painful storm race in the morning, I was very impressed.  It was an awesome race to watch and we all had a ton of fun.  Strive On!