Month: June 2011

Racin’ against the clock at Church Creek

A few members on the team dusted off their TT bikes and headed over to the eastern side of Maryland for some pancake flat racing against the clock. This was the first installment of the Church Creek 40k time trial series put on by the Annapolis Bicycle Racing Team and Pete Warner, Scott Giles and Brian Sjoberg wanted to test their time trialing skills.

The weather was picture perfect with a decent westerly wind blowing at their backs from the start house that would turn into a head wind on the back side. For those not familiar with the course it is a big loop that starts and finishes in Church Creek, MD.

All three of the guys were able to grab podium spots with the following results:

Rider Place Category Time Avg Speed
Pete Warner 2nd 35+ 53:50 27.7
Scott Giles 3rd 1/2 53:20 28.0
Brian Sjoberg 3rd 3 55:52 26.7

Jim Weinstein completes RAAM for Team 4Mil!!

Jim Weinstein, Photo Credit: Bruce Buckley

Jim wanted us to start this post by thanking his family and friends for their support, his crew and other racers for the efforts, and most importantly to the wounded warriors both on the team and around the country that remind him every day…that America is the Land of the Free BECAUSE we are the home of the brave.  Enjoy the read.

In an attempt to widen Jim’s cycling horizons he decided to compete in the 2011 Race Across America (RAAM).  The event is a 3000 mile bicycle race from Oceanside, CA to Annapolis, MD.  It transits across 14 states, climbs more than 100K feet of climbing and for the best teams, is done in under 6 days.  Unlike the Tour de France, it’s longer, it has more climbing, and there are no rest days in RAAM.  He actually did try to do this in 2010 but one of the support RV’s crashed and the team had to withdraw.  Essentially, he was back in 2011 to help finish what they had started!!
The 8-person team event is more than just cycling endurance.  In the team category, you have a lot of strategy and logistics that come into play.  The back story for the team he joined for 2011 is also a big part of why he did RAAM.  Team4Mil is comprised of US military members, active, retired, separated, that share a desire to help raise funds and awareness for the Wounded Warrior Project.  Jim was elected Racer Captain for the 2011 Team 4Mil RAAM Team and devising team strategy was part of his role.  He sought advice from many folks including former Team Type 1 riders who had set the record in 2009.  They knew we were out to give their record a run and they were eager to help!
Team 4Mil was made up of 8 racers, 2 alternates, and 21 crew members.  They also had 2 RVs, 4 rental vans (1 of which was a dedicated media vehicle), 2 bicycle trailers, and a budget of about $75K to make this happen.  A team can complete RAAM on a lower budget but it is tough to be competitive without enough crew and vehicles.
Team RAAM is best done as a relay.  Although there is no rule about not having all 8 riders on the road at the same time, you’d obviously wear them all out quickly if you did a team time trial.  RAAM teams are fastest when they employ a relay.  Rules allow for a “moving” handoff where 1 rider accelerates, the incoming riders front wheel gets in front of the outgoing riders rear wheel, then the outgoing rider continues to accelerate to speed and the incoming rider stops quickly to get back in the van.  This moving relay happens at high speed, non-stop, across the entire US.  The only exception is that at night, the exchange must be stationary.  A good RAAM team might make as many as 500 transitions during the race so efficient movement is important to ensure no wasted effort.  Lose a few seconds on each relay and it can mean 30 minutes on your time!
Team 4Mil split the 8 person team up into two 4 person teams.  Each 4 person team was responsible for riding a 10 hour shift while the other 4 person team rested in the RVs while being driven about 230 miles up the road. The goal was to go about 200-240 miles depending on speed, terrain, wind, etc…

Jim cranking away on the flats. Photo Credit: Bruce Buckley

Jim’s team of 4 was the first on the road and their goal was to go out with effort but not kill themselves.  Coming through the first time station, he was able to pass the Strategic Lions and Team4Mil was in 1st Place!  After the pass, he was given the task of descending the glass elevator which Jim did at an average speed of close to 60 mph!!  He said that was an amazing rush! At the bottom, he had outrun his follow vehicle so he needed a pre-staged vehicle to ensure he didn’t get lost.  RAAM rules require you to stay on the route, if you deviate it can be grounds for disqualification.  As they rolled into the warm and dry desert air, the sun began to set, turning the landscape orange.  Riding at Lactate Threshold (LR) for 15 minute efforts over and over and over seems like it would be taxing, but Jim said “the constant changing scenery and the fact that you are being chased by a good team was motivation enough to ride hard.”  Around midnight on the first night Team 1, which was his 4 riders did the transition with Team 2.  The transition was fairly simple, basically 4 riders get off course and 4 new fresh riders go on.  The tired riders go to the RV for food, showers, sleep…the ongoing riders, get ready to rumble!

In the RV they had a small shower space but were able to move through it quickly.  Our cook would have great food prepared for them each day once their shift was over.  They ate foods like beef stew, chili, lentil soup, Risotto…a real feast!  The RV would then high tail it about 230 miles down the road to the next Team transition spot.  Now, it took about 1 hour for the RV to get moving after the new riders arrived.  It takes about 4-5 hours for the RVs to travel the 230 miles (they can’t always travel on the course if the roads are over mountains).  This leaves only a few hours of the RV at the new transition spot quite and stationary.  This is when they all got the best sleep.  Riders were woken about 1 hour before the shifts changed back over and they quickly got dressed, ate breakfast and tried to go to the bathroom!  Then it was back on the road for another 10 hours. 

Jim Weinstein on the flats outside of Borrego Springs, Photo Credit: Bruce Buckley

When Team 1 picked up the second 10 hour shift they were getting ready to climb the first big climb of the day called Yarnell Grade.  Jim has done this climb with friends and he knew that it’s a suffer fest if you want to go hard! He was a bit disappointed to learn that the Strategic Lions were able to pass them during the night.  They were slowly pulling away and the team needed to pick up the pace.  The team climbed their hearts out holding the lions to a steady (but not growing) lead as they passed through Arizona and into the large expanse of nothingness that is an Indian reservation to the north.  The altitude got thinner and he watched as his pulls went from 15 minutes at 330 watts to 300 watts to 280 watts.  It was frustrating but he kept telling himself Kansas would be different.  After another team exchange they were in the high mountains of Colorado and Team 1’s job was to climb some of the biggest passes in Colorado including Wolf Creek and La Veta pass.  These were Colorado monsters and they each took nearly an hour to climb.    

Team 2 took over and finished off Colorado beginning the descent out from altitude and when Team 1 took over, it was a race to catch the Strategic Lions.  They were now about 90 minutes in front of them and they were ready to turn up the screws on them a bit. Jim’s team 1 guys took HUGE Pulls, him included.  In fact, on the way to Pratt, KS time station, Team 4Mil (and Team 1 specifically) set the 2nd fastest time EVER for an average speed between time stations.  They averaged 32 mph for over 70 miles and more specifically, they averaged over 30 miles per hour for nearly 250 miles!  They brought the lead down to under an hour!!!  They could taste lion meat for dinner. 
When Team 1 was transitioning to Team 2, Jim looked at their Navy Seal rider on Team 2 and said, “dude, we killed it—do your best to not lose this time.” Then he noticed he was drinking cream and sugar in his coffee.  What Navy Seal drinks cream and sugar in his coffee….so, he made fun of him for it.  He looked Jim in the eye and said “Jim, I haven’t met my quota for the month” which Jim wasn’t exactly sure what he meant but didn’t want to find out.  He was the first to ride and did a great pull as the Team 2 riders finished off Kansas and headed into the flooded Missouri basin.
Here is where the story turns a little Dark for Jim.  He started having problems with a saddle abrasion. He ended up spending time in the Emergency Room in Kansas.  After getting released, it actually took him quite a few hours to catch the team and get going again. 
With 600 miles to go the team made a decision that they were 90  minutes behind the Lions again, the only chance they had to win was to go 100% full gas with all riders for 100 miles, and see if they could eat into their time, if they did, they would keep it going and reassess every 100 miles.  However, after 200 miles of riding without rest, at nearly 100% effort (i.e. they could go no harder for that period of time) they had only eaten into there time by about 15 minutes.  As rider captain Jim made a decision to tone everything down and they would finish in Annapolis safely.  The race is long and anything can happen but they gave it their best shot. 
They had two wounded warriors on the team that were instrumental, they had several local guys like Bruce Buckley, our media extraordinaire, and Jim Weinstein, Kyle Pitman and Dan Schindler (ABRT), and several riders from around the country.

The finish! Photo Credit: Bruce Buckley

However, despite crossing the entire country, seeing amazing things….the most amazing thing to Jim was the sight of his friends, family, and former WWVC friends and current Bike Doctor teammates standing at the Pier in Annapolis greeting Team 4Mil as they pulled into the Doc.

Jim said that no words could describe the feeling … but his eye’s welled up as the emotions took over.
The team’s time was 5 days, 12 hours and 5 minutes.  This was the 6th fastest time ever recorded for a RAAM Team!  Jim was proud to be part of it and proud to call himself a Bike Doctor representative…. and wanted to say “thanks for the opportunity!”

Epic Racing Weekend at ToWC Stage Race

First and foremost, Bike Doctor wants to give a big shout out to the folks at Antietam Velo Club Racing for putting on an amazing race throughout the Washington County area this weekend. From the excitement provided by Joe Jefferson’s commentary to the well oil machine of Randall Buxbaum’s crew to the professional service from Mark Monnett’s SRAM/Zipp team and the tight ship run by the officials. All of it was excellent and made for a great weekend of racing.

For details on the 1/2/3 stage race go to Pete Warner’s blog post.

The team was ready to rock and roll on the stage race after winning the category 3 kick off crit.

Things started off with the prologue Saturday morning. It was a hilly 4.5 mile prologue. The two GC riders for the category 3 race was Brian Rist and Brian Sjoberg, they finished 7th and 24th, respectively. Weren’t the results they were expecting but were only 32 and 44 seconds down. Fife and Bickling took things easy to save themselves to support in the road race.

The AVC crew were very fast posting results online, usually within a couple of hours after each race was completed.

Sunny Gill during Road Race, Photo Credit: Jim Wilson

Road race went fairly well. Rist was able to grab 7th. Sjoberg missed an opportunity to jump in front of Rist to set up the lead out and tried to grab him with 400 meters to go but it was unsuccessful. The one thing the guys said about the road race was that the decision for no feeding was a little extreme for a 1.5-2 hour race in 90 degree weather.

Time trial was death to both Brian’s. They both lost considerable time but Rist was sitting in 12th overall and could jump a few positions with a good criterium race. Bickling and Fife again rode the time trial at a moderate pace to keep some freshness in their legs.

Sprint Finish, Sjoberg 1st, Bickling 2nd, Photo Credit: Team Traveler

Criterium was fast and faced constant attacking. Rist and Sjoberg were countering each other well. Bickling and Fife were sitting back for the finish and waiting in the wings to pull back anything significant. With 3 to go, Todd moved up and signaled to Sjoberg to grab his wheel. They hooked up and moved up into great position with 1 lap to go. Out of the last corner Todd was sitting 5th and Sjoberg was 6th. Todd shot out of the corner with a ton of speed. Brian came around with 150 meters to go and looked around and saw that Todd and he would finish 1st and 2nd and the excitement started. What a great way to end the weekend of racing with a 1, 2 finish!!

Brian Rist was able to secure some intermediate time bonus premes and moved up to 10th overall. Great teamwork guys, now go work on your time trialing!


Shampawnia Poppin at Tour of Washington County Kick Off Crit

Shampawnia was poppin'

In the words of Christopher Walken on SNL, “Wow! Wowie-wow-wow-wow!”. The Bike Doctor team popped Shampawnia after winning the inaugural category 3/4 Tour of Washington County kick off criterium put on by AVC Racing Club and sponsored by State Farm Insurance. The 3/4 field had 70+ riders eager to get their cut of the $1000 purse. The course was four corners with a small chicane and slight uphill on the backside and it was held in downtown Hagerstown. As the riders warmed up you could feel the energy in the air as a live band was playing near the start/finish area and people were enjoying fine food and beverages from the outside restaurants/bars.

The team was represented by Todd Bickling, Steve Fife, Robb Hampton and Brian Sjoberg. The gun went off and the team wasted no time in starting their aggression. Todd Bickling showed off his Cyclocross skills and jumped off the line with a gap. He continued to ride off the front for a few laps and just as he was being brought back 3 laps into the race, Sjoberg shot down the right hand side and opened up a nice gap coming through the start/finish stretch. He was joined by two other riders and they started to grow their lead as the team began policing the front of the pack and slowing things down wherever possible.

Post race interview with Joe Jefferson, Photo Credit: Michael Scotto

The front group did some reshuffling when 1 rider dropped off and a couple laps later a solo rider (Ben Frederick) bridged. The gap hovered around 15 seconds but midway through the race the trio continued and the spirit of the pack broke. With 6 laps to go the breakaway was close to lapping the field but decided to ease off the pace and keep chaos at a minimum.

The game of cat and mouse started with 2 laps to go when one rider (Michael Egan) tried to take a flyer but was reeled in by Ben while Sjoberg was glued to his wheel. With 1 to go, Ben lifted the pace up the backside hill and continued around the 2nd corner. As he swung left Sjoberg attacked down the right hand side and went screaming into the 3rd corner. Brian continued stomping on the pedals and came out of the final corner with a 5 bike length lead. That gap was never closed and Sjoberg threw his hands up in victory for another Bike Doctor win!!

Todd Bickling was able to grab some more of the purse by finishing in 12th.

Crystal Cup Crash Contest

Sunny Gill chasing down a move. Photo Credit (Daniel Meaurio)

Sunday the Bike Doctor boys clipped into their pedals for the last race of the day at the Air Force Classic Crystal Cup 3/4 race. With a 15 deep payout of $1000, and $500 of merchandise premes on the line, the plan was to race aggressive. Lining up was Todd Bickling, Robb Hampton, Brian Rist, Steve Fife, Brian Sjoberg, Mike Schneider and Sunny Gill.

A few team members had raced here last year, and knew that this course was prone to a lot of crashes. Well, once again the course claimed several victims of misfortune, and there were as many as 7 separate incidents, with the first one on lap 3 neutralizing the race at the start/finish line. A few Bike Doctors got tied up behind, but made it back to the start line while the Medics tended to the wounded.

Rist putting the hurt down. Photo Credit (Daniel Meaurio)

Once things got under way again, the plan was to attack and counter attack each other to make the race. Brian Rist was on the attack when the first preme was announced and was  caught by the pack just after the second corner, and his move was immediately countered by the other Brian (Sjoberg) for a solo flyer win of the teams first preme. The second preme was also based off a counterattack of Sunny Gill’s move. With 300 meters to go to the line, Steve Fife wound up a fierce attack and jumped right as Sunny was caught and crossed the line with a nice gap.

2 to go, Controlling the front. Photo Credit (Daniel Meaurio)

The rest of the race was full of small attacks and crashes as the laps ticked down. With 4 to go, Brian Rist launched a promising move and joined a lone HPC List rider. With Brian’s pistons pumping and the team swarming to the front to block, his lead grew. However with 2 to go, a DC Velo rider charged off the front and soon joined the leading duo. The HPC List rider was able to claim the victory from the fast charging field. The rest of the guys tried to pick up some scraps in the chaotic field sprint, and Sjoberg managed to snag 6th, Rist held on to 11th, Gill grabbed 13thand the rest of the guys rolled in with the pack.

This was by far one of the sketchiest races in a long time, and the large victory of the day was that we all made it out of there in one piece. 2 out of 3 premes, and three riders in the money doesn’t hurt either.

Next up, Washington County Friday night crit and stage race.

Clarendon Cup Masters Race rumble

Clarendon Cup

On Saturday, Pete Warner & Scott Giles made it out for the Clarendon Cup Masters Criterium race.   Clarendon is definitely a Queen on the yearly criterium calendar.  It’s a picturesque city center criterium encompassing all of the tangible qualities found at a top level criterium.  Without a doubt, there was some serious horsepower and teams seeking to take home top honors.  The stage was set for some dramatic, tactical racing on the day.

Although a podium spot proved elusive for Giles (6th) and Warner (9th), they both enjoyed the race immensely and were pleased to be mixing it up at the front end of the race with some extremely talented riders.

Giles did win a prime, which was a sweet new Giro Aeon Helmet compliments of a great sponsor for the race, Revolution Cycles. Thank you as well to the Promoter, Arlington Sports, Inc, for putting on a great show throughout the day!

Hey, who needs a race report when there is video!
[vimeo w=398&h=231]

Sjoberg Guts out 8th Place in non-Climber’s Nightmare Race (Tour of Mt Nebo Race Report)

Brian Sjoberg from Bike Doctor decided to give his new Cannondale Supersix a try on the climber’s dream course of Tour of Mt Nebo organized by Road Cycling League. This was a category 3/4 race with 55 riders entered. It was a sunny day with temps in the high 80’s. The race director made a late announcement that the course actually had 1000 feet of climbing per lap versus the previous estimate of 600 feet. It was a 5 lap race totaling 45 miles. There were two significant climbs on this course with lots of other shorter climbs.

After the 3rd lap the pack had wittled down to about 20 riders. There weren’t any major attacks just a constant tempo that was wearing the field down. Halfway through the 4th lap, the field was bombing down a descent and someone in the middle of the pack endoed for some unexplained reason. Sjoberg had to slam on the brakes to avoid crashing into the poor guy that was in the process of using is hind end to erase the white lines in the road. Brian said later that all he saw was a bike go flying up, the guys feet were twice as high in the air as the riders. Then as he passed the guy he was sliding on his rear, using a combination of his gloves and skin to stop him.

Sobe's Cannondale SuperSix

Brian had to play catch up for a mile or so, he rejoined just in time to hit the major climb on the back side of the course. He stayed in contact about midway up the climb but then slowly lost contact. He joined a couple of guys behind him and they were able to work their way back into the shrinking peleton.

The last lap was pretty mild until about 1k to go. One guy attacked and was joined by a few others. Brian was caught a little too far back and wasn’t able to join the front group. As the climb started with 500 meters to go, Sjoberg dug deep and started working his way through some riders and then snuck past one more rider with 20 meters to go to claim 8th place on the day and just made the money.

Crash Avoidance at Ride Sally Ride

This weekend the Bike Doctor team headed over to Sterling, VA for the Whole Wheel Velo Club Ride Sally Ride crit. The weather was great and the course is built for speed. It is a sprinters dream because it is tough for breaks to stick and if a lead out can deliver their sprinter to the last corner a victory is nearly certain. Well the only thing certain would be that the guys would be dodging crashes left and right all day.

The first race for the team was the Junior 10-14, Tanner Browne was entered and ready to do battle with 24 other boys. Tanner was pretty active through out the race and was in a late break with 3 others that looked like it was going to stick. It would eventually come back and Tanner was able to gut out a 4th place sprint finish. Great job Tanner!

Next was the 35+ 3/4 race where Todd “Doc” Bickling, Robb “Wrob” Hampton and Mike Schneider joined the cast of 60 other racers. The guys stayed out of the wind and trouble. The finish was a little hairy and the guys got caught back a little farther then they would have like. They still managed to score two top 10’s where Todd finished 9th and Robb was 12th.

The crew (Doc, Wrob, Mike) from the previous race joined a few others from the team, Cliff C., Sunny Gill, Judd Walencikowski and Brian “Sobe” Sjoberg in the category 3 race. The team certainly had good numbers in a field of 60+ riders. The team strategy was to have a couple of guys cover the front and watch for moves while the others sat back and stayed fresh for the finish. Things were going to plan (Cliff and Sunny had covered everything significant) and with 5 to go the team started to get organized and move to the front. Sunny and Sobe connected and were planning to set up an attack with a couple laps to go. With 2 laps to go, Brian took off down the back stretch while Sunny let a gap open up.  Sobe wouldn’t get very far but kept on the gas to help string things out and was finally consumed with 2 corners to go.

Sunny was in good position going into the final corner, sitting about 6th place but was quickly brought to a stand still when a rider went down in front of him and caused another 10 riders to slow. Sobe was able to avoid the carnage and slipped into 10th place. Notably absent were some of the usual closers in Doc and Wrob. Todd had clipped his pedal and went down with 1.5 laps to go and to avoid t-boning Doc, Robb had to lock up the brakes, leaving a lot of rubber on the road and popped a tire.

The second to last race of the day was the 35+ open race. The team was represented by Brian Rist, Pete Warner, Evan Ellicot, Cliff and Sobe. The team was extremely active through out the race and almost always had someone in the break. Pete was able to take two premes and Sobe was able to grab one. Sjoberg ended up 7th and Warner was 8th.

The last race was the 1/2/3 race, Bike Doctor had all repeat racers in Sunny, Pete, Rist, Sjoberg and Evan. The team was active again in this race but luck was not on their side. Nearly half the team was either taken out by crashes or caught behind them and had to chase back on. No one was able to place in the top 10 but they certainly got in some great training for the weeks to come.

Doctor Answers the Call – BikeJam

Photo Credit: Jim Wilson Images

This weekend some of the Bike Doctor racing team made their way to Baltimore for the Kelly Benefit Strategies BikeJam Criterium. This race usually puts people a little on edge because of the funky roundabouts, especially the backstretch chicane leading to the uphill finish and the occasional rock one has to dodge from some of spectators. The weather was a touch on the warm side with some wind blowing into the riders faces on the backstretch.

The team fielded 4 riders for the Category 3/4 race. They were Todd “Doc” Bickling, Rob “Wrob” Hampton, Cliff C., and Brian “Sobe” Sjoberg. With the field being in excess of 80 riders the guys were going for a defensive strategy versus the last couple of races where they had significant numbers and could be pretty aggressive. The plan was to sit near the front, stay out of trouble and just monitor for dangerous breaks and maybe snag a preme if the opportunity presented itself.

For the first 10 laps, the team was near the front and stayed safe. With 10 to go a preme was rung and Sobe decided it was time to test the legs. Two guys had a small gap going down the backstretch and Sobe shot down the left side and joined them briefly. He got back on the gas and rounded the backstretch corner, passing the two guys and shot out of the chicane with a good gap. He continued cruising up the finishing hill and took the preme and sat up to save something for the finish.

Sobe breakaway attempt with 1 lap to goPhoto Credit: Jim Wilson Images

Another 5 laps went by with nothing significant up the road. With 5 to go Todd bridged up to another rider but came back a lap later. With 2 to go the field was starting to lull and let one rider cruise away. Brian decided it was time to throttle up and bridge to the lone rider. Similar to the preme, he rode around the rider before the backstretch chicane and then continued pulling up the hill. Unfortunately when he got to the top of the hill and made it around the first turn he no longer had a companion. This was bell lap and the pack was chasing hard.

Brian sat up and looked to be checking out but then was revitalized when Doc Bickling called out that he was ready to go. Lead out time!! Brian and Todd linked up and were in good position coming out of the backstretch chicane. They were about 5-6 riders back. Brian started winding things up just before the final bend, past a couple of riders and then Todd took off like a bottle rocket up the left hand side, passing 2 more riders and just barely missing 2nd place. So Doc finished 3rd and Brian managed to hang on to 8th.

Definitely a successful race when we only had 4 riders in a field of 80+.

Next the boys in red and black lined up for the Masters 35+ combined race. The team added two more (Steve Fife, Jim “Forget these crits, I am doing RAAM” Weinstein) from the original cast but lost one (Doc). This race had a 60+ riders, with good representation from Battley/Harley, Kelly Benefit Strategies, Clean Currents and NCVC. Pre-race strategy was stay close to the front and watch for significant moves. There were some solid teams here and breakaway chances would be high.

Early on the team was pretty active on the front. Sobe decided to make a move off the front about 5 laps in. He was solo for a half lap and then was joined by 4 others.  They stayed out for a couple of laps, aided by some well executed blocking tactics by the fellas that were in the field but came back eventually.

Around 8 to go a dangerous group was up the road. Fortunately Harley had missed it and was forced to chase it down. Right as the group came back, Nima, who had been in the front group, took off with two other guys and quickly got 25 seconds. At first it looked like the race was over but things started to get organized around 5 to go. Cliff put in a good effort to nail back some time on the break. Then Sobe went to the front and got back a few more seconds. With 2 to go the breakaway had a crash at the top of the hill that eliminated Nima and Kevin Cross (Haymarket).

Jim and Sobe found each other with 2 to go and started moving up. As they came up the finish hill for bell lap, Jim knew he needed to move up and started to gain some position up the left side, Sobe saw this and started to move up as well. Right then the ever familiar sound of a flatting tire screamed from one of Jim’s wheels. Ouch, there went our sprinter. Sobe assumed the unfamiliar roll of sprinter and dug in. It was fast on the back stretch and after the chicane he lost a few spots but managed 11th place.

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