Outstanding turn out for the Red Peloton Toys for Tots Bike Ride. A big “Thank You” to station 1 fire station personnel for the excellent tour and welcoming attention.
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Here is a sneak preview of our 2017 kit.
Note: Sponsors and logo placements are not up to date.
Please save the afternoon of October 15th 2016 so you can attend the annual team BBQ and celebration at Jean and Neil Martin’s home.
Stay tuned for more details.
This is a long report, but it was a long climb, so bear with me.
My first ride up Haleakala was in 2007, when I spent a month on Maui with a friend just to eat, sleep, and ride. To help pay for the trip, we led a few bike tours around various parts of the island with Maui Cyclery. Cold, hard cash just for riding our bikes and playing tour guides? Sure! My first tour up the volcano, we didn’t bother to tell the clients that I’d never even been halfway to the top. I pretended to know what I was doing and kept saying, “Just a few more turns…”
Since then, I’ve ridden the 36-mile, 10,000-ft climb from Paia on the north shore to the highest point on Maui maybe 5 times. It’s never easy, and the weather can be nasty near the top. Cramps, bonking, altitude struggles, and general fatigue are always a risk, so I’ve always made at least 2 long, relaxed food stops on the way, just to refuel, stretch, and pray.
Cycle to the Sun takes the experience from a recreational bucket-list item to a competitive throw-down with 200 racers from all over the U.S. (and many from the islands). In 2014 and 2015, I trained for the event but couldn’t attend due to scheduling conflicts. This year, I made it happen.
I flew out 3 days early to get used to the heat and humidity, and also because, well…it’s Maui. By this point, I was definitely in taper mode and was focusing on sleeping and hydrating. I did some short rides up the first few miles of the climb to get mentally ready. I was feeling pretty good in the days leading up to the race and just wanted to maintain those sensations.
On race day, after a night of fitful sleep, I got up at 5 a.m. to eat some cinnamon toast crunch and one scrambled egg — breakfast of champions. I rolled into town, stopped by the coffee shop for a quick espresso, and headed to the start. Everyone looked very skinny and very motivated. I spotted a Mike’s Bikes guy and gave him the stink-eye. Pretty sure that threw him off his game. After a Hawaiian blessing, they counted down and we rolled out.
The first 7 miles were a pretty gentle climb up to the town of Makawao, averaging maybe 4-5%. I fully expected the fast guys to pin it and shell everyone else. I had one game plan: stay within myself and make no sudden movements. Having foregone the beastly powertap wheel for some super-light Ovals on loan from my brother, I only had heart rate and VAM to gauge my effort. As it turned out, no one — even the fastest guys — wanted to attack this first section. That was fine by me, as I gradually settled in right at my target heart rate and kept my nose out of the wind.
The chill pace allowed a group of 40 of us (including the eventual winner) to stay together coming into Makawao. Our VAM was right around 1000 meters/hour. That’s on pace for a 3-hour ride, which is usually about the winning time. It occurred to me that a lot of guys in that 40-strong group might be riding too fast, even though they were still right below their thresholds. That was my hope, anyway, as I was still 10 bpm below threshold. I thought, “Maybe a lot of people can ride like this for an hour, but not for 3 hours, and not at altitude.”
Right at mile 7, coming out of Makawao, there was a 1/4-mile section at 13%. As planned, I kept my own pace and watched nearly all 40 racers ride away from me. A mile later, we hit the only flat/slightly downhill section of the entire race, which lasted all of 2 minutes. Also as planned, I eased up, allowed my HR to drop into the 160s, took my first gel, swigged some energy drink, and settled back in.
At mile 9, we turned onto Haleakala Hwy, where the real climbing started. Long sections at 7% or so, and now the gaps were starting to appear. I was solo at this point, but I had a couple of guys behind me and a few groups of 3-5 ahead. There was a bit of shuffling around as guys would catch me, then I’d ride away, then I’d catch a few, then lose them again. My pace was never dictated by the other racers, though — only my HR and the sensations in my legs. I noticed that a lot of the other guys were drenched in sweat and were breathing like they were right at their limits. I stayed calm and grabbed a bottle of Heed at the first feed zone at about 3,000 feet elevation. I reached that point in about an hour, which seemed reasonable.
As we turned onto Crater Road at mile 15 (elevation 3,500), I noticed a group of 15 guys only 150 yards ahead. I couldn’t believe it: how could 15 people be perfectly matched after an hour and 10 minutes of climbing? We should be shattered by now! I put my head down, kept it steady, and ended up tagging onto the back of the group. I sat on for about 30 seconds, watched my HR drop back to the mid-160s and said, “screw this.” When I got to the front, I saw three teammates keeping tempo at the head of the group. I guess others were just happy to have them set the pace, but I checked the VAM and we were at about 900. I went to the front for about 5 minutes, pulled off on a short, flatter section, and looked back to see that the group of 15 was whittled down to about 6. The three teammates, though complimentary of my turn at the front, appeared to return the favor by taking a collective dig around the next switchback.
At 4,000 feet, my sensations improved — I finally felt warmed up and awake. It was low enough on the mountain not to be gasping for air, but the perfect point in the race to put in a solid 30 minutes and take advantage of other racers’ having gone out too hard. I rode away from the 3 teammates and the now-shattered group of 15 and set off alone.
The section from 4,000 ft to the next feed zone at 6,000 was a blur, but I kept it very steady and stayed on top of my hydration and gel intake. I also made a point of taking 2 Hammer Endurolytes every 40 minutes. At the National Park entrance at around 7,000 feet, I was still solo, but I spotted a group of 3 about 200 yards ahead. It was kind of key to be with a group on this section because the winds always pick up at this elevation, so you alternate between headwind and tailwind as you snake up the switchbacks. Any other day, and at a lower altitude, I would have just danced on the pedals for a minute to close the gap. Instead, it turned into a 20-minute chase. I picked up one dropped rider, traded one turn with him, then continued my pursuit of the other two.
At about 8,000 feet, I took my 5th and final gel before my stomach said, “Please, no more.” I tried to stand to get more pressure on the pedals, but it felt useless. I was feeling a little weak, so I consciously backed off a tad. My VAM had declined noticeably, which is expected but still disheartening. My HR was about where I wanted it, but honestly, at this point, the numbers meant nothing to me. I couldn’t push any harder, and I didn’t want to back off any more. I caught and passed one more rider and saw another in the distance.
Right at about 9,000 ft, I saw someone coming up behind me. Shit. This racer was the only one to catch me the entire race, so I told myself to dig in and stay with him once he caught me. My pre-race “plan” had me giving it everything at 9,000 ft (about 20 min from the top), but that was quickly turning into a fantasy. As he motored up next to me, I noticed that his helmet was unbuckled, and I’ll be damned if I’m gonna get beaten by some schmoe with an unbuckled lid. I jumped on and told myself to hit it from the visitor’s center at 9,700 ft to the top. This guy did the same, and when I looked down, we were at our highest VAM of the day: 1100. Then 1150. My HR was climbing but not yet in the red. I ignored the twinge in my hamstring and finally went into “race mode.” As we got to about 300m to go, we were at 1200 VAM. I held steady as the other guy popped. I saw one more guy about 50m ahead and threw down to pass him with about 100m to go. I sailed across the line and got a high-five from the race organizer, Donnie.
My time was 3:20, good for 14th overall out of 200, and 5th in my age group out of 28. My old PR was 3:47, not including generous banana bread and donut stops. Next year I plan to get in some high-altitude training and will hopefully crack the top 10.
Thanks for reading,
The Red Peloton has been an active group in the last month or so! We have had some remarkable racing results as well as extraordinary displays of endurance and altruism. The Red Kite Omnium and NCNCA Crterium Championships were August 30- 31 in Pleasanton and Red Peloton finished with impressive results! On Saturday, in the Women’s Cat Pro 1/2, Nina Strika finished in second place, and on Sunday, Mike Charleton finished on top of the Men’s Master division 45-49 Cat 1/2/3, while Kristin Drumm took the top spot in the Women’s Master’s 45-49 in the Cat 1/2/3/4 race! Also putting in a notable performance was John Witkowicki, on Saturday placing 11th in the Men’s Masters 55+ Cat 3/4 and Greg Hay placing 16th. John went out for a second day on Sunday placing 7th in the Men’s Master 60 -69 Cat 1/2/3/4/5. Aaron Schmitz placed 11th in the Men’s Cat 2/3 race. Congratulations to everyone for making a strong and inspiring showing!
The USA Cycling Master’s Road Nationals followed the championships September 3 – 7 and again Mike Charleton, making a strong showing, placed 7th in the Men’s Master’s 45-49 Crit. John Witkowicki, placed 21st in the Men’s Master’s 60-64 Crit, 14th in the Men’s Master Time Trial, and 29th in the Road Race. John showed amazing endurance and effort racing all three disciplines competing with some of the best in the country! What a great way to finish out the season!
Endurance , Fundraising & Community Service
This year’s Tour de Fuzz was again a successful event and Red Peloton was out in force to help with the KOM challenge. This event has grown significantly each year and the proceeds go to a great cause, the Law Enforcement Chaplaincy of Sonoma County and the Law Enforcement Chaplaincy Foundation. Thank you to our sponsors who helped out Timothy Brown and John O’Connell, and to team members Linda Eichhorn, Greg Hay, Keith Howell, Lauren Lee, Shannon Mitchell, Anette Niewald, John Prouty, Star Stevenson, Doug Wagner, and John Witkowicki. It was a warm day and I know the climbers appreciated our support! For those of you who have not yet volunteered for this event, the food is amazing so keep it in mind for a volunteer opportunity for next year!
We had a very large group from our ranks who participated in the Sea to Sierra fund raising ride to support Women’s Recovery Services of Santa Rosa. This is a three day ride nearly 300 mile ride from the Sonoma Coast to the edge of Lake Tahoe. This year, they had the King Fire to contend with but they persevered! Kudos to Kamran Azmoudeh, Pam Collum, Neil and Jean Martin, Louise Penna, Mark Pierpoint, John Prouty, Kim Simoni and Doug Wagner for combining what they love to do with supporting the community at the same time. As a group they donated their reimbursements for this event directly which ended up being an $810 donation to WRS.
Anette Niewald rode in the Napa Valley Ride to Defeat ALS. She reported the weather was perfect and the route was beautiful! Her reason for riding was in support of a local cyclist Paul Stimson, who has been diagnosed with ALS and she said that she and others raised $36,685!
Many team members served as marshals at this years’ Levi’s Gran Fondo. Despite a few accidents the marshal leaders reported it was one of the safest years. Great to see so much participation from the team spreading goodwill among the thousands of riders who are new to the area and perhaps not completely prepared for the ride they signed up for. Our presence was undoubtedly a welcome comfort and the new hi-vis jerseys and Velotoes shoe covers really made us stand out!
A few of our team members were able to put on their swagger for Sutter Pacific’s Catwalk for a Cure. Dave Haddox, Kris Kersmarki, Mike Charlton and our Pres. Nick McGowan all donned a little pink in support of those suffering from breast cancer. Red Peloton has helped to raise over $1 million for this cause!
And last but not least by any means….we had a great group of team members supporting the annual Team Swift ride. Many thanks to Eric Cinnamon, Pam Collum, Kristin Fladseth , David Haddox , Kris Kersmarki, Samir Moalla, Louise Penna, Laurie Peterson, Nina Strika, Doug Wagner, Michelle Wood, and to John Prouty who piloted a SAG wagon and rumor has it, his work was exemplary!
We want to recognize our teammates who recently volunteered to marshal at the Tour d’ Organics on August 9, 2014. Thank you to Kyle Ashton, Larry Atil, Kamran Azmoudeh, Jeff Braunstein, Pam Collum, Matt Farnham, Jeanine Gugel, Keith Howell, Jean Martin, Samir Moalla, LeeAnn Paul, Louise Penna, John Prouty, Terri Ruttledge Doug Wagner, and Jim Whitford. A special thanks goes out to Mark Pierpoint who got the volunteers together and made sure everyone was where they were supposed to be, at the right time.
Also, we are sending out a big “thanks” to those who volunteered on the Red Peloton sponsored nights of the TNT’s (Tuesday Night Twilights). It takes a lot of effort to make this race series successful and our participation is part of that success. Thanks to Larry Atil, Timothy Brown, Mike Charlton, Pam Collum, Jeanine Gugel, Greg Hay, Curt Kimble, Kris Kersmarki, Pat Krueger, Jonathan Lee, Lauren Lee, Neil Martin, Anette Niewald, LeeAnn Paul, Louise Penna, Laurie Peterson, Scotty Roberts, Star Stevenson and Nina Strika. Special thanks to our marshal volunteer coordinator, Laurie, who made sure the marshals were at their posts keeping everyone safe!
Check out what we’ve been up to so far this year. Read our Summer 2014 Newsletter!
An update from elite team racer Mike Charleton. Mike and Red Peloton had a successful season at the Tuesday Night Twilights criterium series.
Red Peloton takes the overall series win in the P/1/2/3 category at the Tuesday Night Twilights in Santa Rosa. What a confidence builder and a message to the field when 7 Red Peloton riders line up ready to contribute to a successful outcome. Big thanks and congratulations go to Patrick Zahn, Matt Farnham, Javier Sanchez, Kyle Ashton, Joe Feng and Gavin Murray. Special recognition to Eric Cinnamon for a long summer series of lead outs, chasing hard and consistent sacrifice on race nights. Great job to all the RP volunteers that came out on our night and kept the course safe while cheering on the team.
Well the results are in, and we would like to thank everyone who participated. Heck, even if you didn’t partake in the challenge we’d still like to thank everyone who took part in the ride – especially those of you who welcomed our warm cheers as you crested the top of the first Geyser’s peak. We hope our jubilation made your ride just that much more special because we really do enjoy being up there supporting you all.
Without further adieu, here are the full results for the Geysers KOM/QOM challenge brought to you by Red Peloton. Congratulations to everyone who participated!
And before we bid our farewells for now, we’d thought we’d share a few shots from our adventures a top the Geysers. See you all next year!
While the men had a good showing at both the final Red Kite event and the Omnium, the Red Peloton women represented as well. Below is Kristin Drumm’s recap of the final race, but before we get to that…
Congrats to Kristin on her 7th overall finish in the Ws P/1/2 Omnium series, and to Kelli Badillo on her 5th overall and Lauren Lee on her 9th overall in the Ws 3 series.
And more importantly…best of luck to Kristin as she heads up to Bend, OR to compete in Master’s Nationals this weekend.
This race was the last crit in the summer long Red Kite series. Since I only did a few races in the series I was not in contention for the omnium, but I chose this race as part of my final prep for Master’s Crit Nationals in Bend, OR next weekend.
I was delighted to run into Lauren and Kelli at the start. Because I thought I was solo I did not have a plan, but we quickly decided that Lauren would do her best to be active at the front, letting myself and Kelli chill in the pack. Lauren was indeed very active, keeping the pace high when the pack got too bunchy and squirrely, then recover, then chase down dangerous break attempts. It was fun to see Red P so active in the race!
Pleasanton is one of those areas that is always “too something”…meaning it is usually “too hot” or “too windy”. Today was “too windy”. There were many break attempts, but with no one strong team in control and a strong wind, they were all brought back. Late in the race Jane Robertson rolled off the front after a prime and time trialed solo in the wind, keeping the pack at bay almost to the finish. As a Davis resident she is very familiar with and used to windy conditions! The pack finally woke up and decided to chase her down, with Trish Black catching and passed Jane in the final corner, sprinting away for the win. Jane was able to hold onto 2nd for her efforts, with the Farm Team (name???) girl in third. I ended up 4th in the 1/2 and Lauren finished 6th in the 3’s (even after all that hard work!). On a personal note, if I stopped mountain biking perhaps I would have a sprint. Nah, it’s too much fun!
Meanwhile, Kelli rolled her tubular in the final corner and heroically kept herself upright. That was an amazing save!
Next up: the Giro.
Congratulations to all the Red Peloton racers who tackled the Red Kite series. It wrapped up this past Saturday with the final event and 6th crit of the series. On the men’s side, congratulations to…
John Witkowicki on his 6th overall Omnium finish in the Masters 55+ 3/4 category and Nick McGowan on his 10th and 7th place overall finishes in the Elite P/1/2 and Elite 2/3 categories respectively.
Below is Nick’s race report on the final Red Kite event.
Red Kite Criterium #6
by Nick McGowan
Field size 50+
Average Speed: 27.9 mph
I do an easy warm up to keep my core temp down. Dehydration can affect thermo regulation and I didn’t want to overheat before the race even kicked off.
I line up and the usual suspects are in attendance. The first half of the race was fairly uneventful and every break attempt was quickly chased down. I could tell people were starting to fatigue and gaps were opening up. I move myself toward the front of the peloton and quickly nestle into an ameba to shelter myself from the ridiculous wind. Not sure how hard it was blowing, but it was fast enough to put input into my front 55mm carbon Edge Design wheel.
40 minutes into the race David Grudman goes for a prime and keeps going. I look up the road and there is a group of four strong cat 2 riders pulling away from the peloton. It’s go time and I jump to bridge across. I make it across and look back to see a huge gap between the field and us. Unfortunately people don’t want to pull through or work together and we get caught with 7 laps to go.
Last few laps were typical attack, accelerate, slow down, and repeat. Last lap I am on the inside sitting in the top 10 when we get swarmed and I am now toward the back. I move out into the wind on the back section and move up. I accelerate out of turn three and hit the last turn in 4th position. I sprinted and finished 3rd.
I finished the Red Kite elite 2/3 Omnium in 7th place overall.
Field Size: approximately 50+
Average Speed: 28.0 mph
Patrick Zahn and Josh Rennie join me for the final showdown of the Red Kite Series. I quickly find Patrick to get some assistance removing the prior race number and its back on the line to start another 60 minutes of racing. The whistle blows and off we go.
As expected attacks come right away and I start to wonder why I chose to race back to back again. I settle into a groove and seem to be hanging in fairly easily. About 10 minutes into the race the prime bell rings and I know things are going to get fast. I move up the inside and stay alert for any major jumps. After turn three Logan Loader jumps hard on the inside. I jump to catch Loader and hit turn 4 with only a few bike lengths between us. I sprint but I was unable to go around him.
I look back and there is a huge gap between the peloton and us. Logan motions to keep going, but my heart rate was at 189 and I chose to sit up and wait for the peloton.
A break of 4 was off the front and the peloton spent half the race doing on/offs. There was nothing smooth about this race and protecting yourself from the wind became crucial. I am now feeling the fatigue from binge drinking and the previous race.
Lap cards start counting down and I am waiting for the bell lap. One to go and I move up on the outside again. I managed to get into good position going into turn 3, but I had little pop left in my legs. I managed to get 7th in the field sprint and finished 11th.
I finished the Red Kite P1/2 Omnium in 10th place overall.
And next year I will be adding some masters racing to mix……
Race Report by Javier Sanchez
Short Version: 4th place overall (Pro/Expert)
After a week of additional tapering following the Annadel race. I had high hopes for a good placing given the success at Annadel so I was really looking forward to having things come together as good as they did before. Adrian, Dave, and I went up to Mendocino for a 3-day event with a Saturday day race. We got there Friday at noon then, after a quick lunch, we head out with a group to pre-ride the 8.5 mile lap course. The course featured 2 long climbs, for a total of 1800 feet of climbing per lap, and 2 very technical descents. Depending on the category, you were either doing 1, 2, or 3 laps. I was on the hook for 3 laps so I was taking it easy to save my legs. But just when we were about to go down the last downhill, a stick gets tangled in my rear derailleur pushing it into the spokes and making an awful sound followed by a sudden rear wheel lockout. After assessing the damage, I ended with a broken derailleur, a broken spoke, a slightly out of true wheel, a twisted chain, and a flat. Yikes! After a few attempts at fixing the flat to coast down, I ended up walking all the way down to the campsite. Talk about things falling apart at the last minute, I thought my weekend was ruined.
Fortunately, there was an event mechanic at the site who proceeded to zip tie the derailleur cage, flip the chain so the digs were on the top, re-true the wheel, take the broken spoke out, re-tape the rim, and fix the flat. The guys was awesome and after about 15 minutes I had a somewhat functional bike but I couldn’t use the granny gear even though I could shift into it because the derailleur would hit the spokes, the high limit screw was sheared off too! Nevertheless it was functional and all I had to do was to remember not to shift into that gear, which turned out to be easy said than done, but I was going race it like that anyhow. If figured I would rather race than to sit around watching the race. That evening, we had a really nice dinner, drank beer and wine, and sat next to the fire pit enjoying the evening under the redwoods. We talked about waking up around 7am to have a good breakfast, get a good warm up, and be ready for the 10am start. Adrian had his two boys with him so we figured they would be up early enough that we didn’t have to worry about us missing our wake up time. I figured what else could go wrong anyhow.
Well, the next morning we found ourselves hustling when Adrian woke us up at 8:45 and to our surprise the kids were still asleep! We rushed through breakfast and the usual pre-race ritual only to find out that we had less than 15 minutes to warm up. I told myself that it probably wasn’t my call to race so decided not to worry about placing and instead treat it just like a fun ride and at least do one lap even if it meant walking back.
I lined up in the front of the pros/experts/single-speed field and, luckily for me, we started the race at somewhat of a moderate pace toward the head of the single-track to begin the first climb which gave me a bit more warm up time. I hit the bottom of the hill in 4th place and felt pretty comfortable with the pace of the guys in front of me. About halfway up the hill, I passed George Hope, grasshopper comrade, to grab 3rd place and noticed there was nobody behinds. We had dropped the rest of the guys. George was a better downhiller so he caught me at the bottom of the first downhill then I passed him again at the start of the 2nd hill which was shorter but steeper than the first hill. Unfortunately, I couldn’t put enough of a gap between us and George passed on the 2nd downhill. I figured he and I were going to battle it out for 3rd place since 1st and 2nd were out of our sights. I was about 30 seconds behind George when we started the 2nd lap and I probably maintained that gap up and down the first hill. However at the bottom of the 2nd hill my chain started to make noises and I decided to back it off and feather it the rest of the race instead of running the risk of breaking it. So I lost sight of George after that. Fortunately, I managed to finish the race and maintain my 4th place position. I was glad about how things turned out at the end even though it looked pretty grim the day before.
To cap the weekend, on Sunday I borrowed an S-Works Stumpjumper FSR for a 3-hour ride with Brian Astell as our guide. Brian is a mountain bike/trials pro who lives in the general area and is quite familiar with the trails. He took 16 of us through some of the most amazing single-track any of us has ever ridden and went on to demonstrate his unbelievable trials skills. That outing alone was worth the whole trip!
Despite the broken bike, this was probably one of the best mountain bike outings I ever had. Thanks to Adrian and Dave for helping me out get through the weekend and, in particular to Dave, for doing all of the driving.
PS: You can find a different perspective of this race by reading Adrian Tamblin’s race report. It also includes some pics from their adventures.