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!
The clock and the days are slowly ticking away and the one question still to be answered is: Are you in?
The Tour de Fuzz is fast approaching and just like last year, Red Peloton will be running the Geysers KOM/QOM Challenge. You’re not into crazy lung busting, leg burning climbing challenges? No problem! That challenge is optional, but what isn’t an option is missing out on the cycling event of the year which supports the Law Enforcement Chaplaincy Service of Sonoma County AND the Law Enforcement Chaplaincy Foundation.
Just remember, the clock is ticking and we’d hate for you to miss out on the fun.
Probably unbeknownst to most of you, part of Red Peloton’s community involvement efforts include supporting junior racers. Often time it comes in the form of mentoring them during the TNTs or at other events, but this year one of our biggest efforts is something a bit different.
For several years now the Red Peloton ladies have had the honor of racing against…well with, but against…Aliya Traficante. When we first met her, Aliya was racing with Tibco and I think we all agreed that she was the cutest thing ever in the peloton. Now at the racing age of 16 and racing with the Chico Corsa Cycling Club, Aliya is embarking on one of her biggest cycling journeys to date: The Tour de la relève internationale de Rimouskiis.
The Tour, which is in Rimouski, Quebec (yes in Canada), is a six-stage cycling race specifically for juniors. Given the rapport we have always had with Aliya – her enthusiasm and energy is nothing but infectious – we knew supporting her on this journey was the least we could do. As much as she may be on a different team when we compete, we have enjoyed seeing Aliya grow as a cyclist and a young woman. And now as she heads to Canada we cannot wait to see how this adventure unfolds for her.
Aliya and her family started their trek to Canada today. We not only wish them safe travels, the Red Peloton ladies and team as a whole wish Aliya nothing but the best during the stage race. Go get ’em, Aliya!
>> Learn more about the Tour de la relève internationale de Rimouskiis
>> Follow Aliya’s cycling adventures by reading her blog
On June 18th a unique adventure happened. In a tradition that is uniquely them, Boudin brought part of their “mother dough” to their new Santa Rosa location with the final portion of it being completed by bike. Red Peloton’s Chris Brown took advantage of the opportunity to participate in this unique event.
You can read about the history and story behind the Mother Dough in the Press Democrat’s article, but below is Chris’ own recount of his journey.
Report by Chris Brown
Waking up earlier than usual on a cold morning to ride a bike is nothing new to a cyclist. This particular Tuesday was special. An email had circulated a few weeks earlier about an interesting opportunity for a $20 gift card. As the day came closer, another email clarified that not only would there be a $20 gift card to Boudin SF for the first 100 cyclists to show, but for the first 20, a jersey would be given. Who doesn’t like free stuff right? Around 7 a.m., I show up to the empty lot of the Rincon Valley Library. A few riders begin to trickle in not long after my arrival. By 9 o’clock, we have about 50 riders who are ready to bring the “Mother Dough” to the new Montgomery Village Boudin. The “Mother Dough”, carried by master baker Fernando Padilla, has been around since 1849 when it was first cultured.
At 9:30, we are ready to depart. Rolling down Calistoga Road, we realize that our master baker has a dangerously low back tire. Luckily one of our companions lives close by and is willing to ride home for a pump. We get back on the road soon after to get the dough to its final destination. Many familiar faces, including John Cushman and Odessa Gunn, ride as well. With about 50 people, many who look new to the rules of the road, myself and a few others decide it is wise to stay toward the back of the pack, and run a sweep to keep people in the bike lane. It’s always fun seeing new faces, especially those who rarely ride a bike, enjoying a beautiful day.
At last, after a relaxed ride, we have arrived at the finish, where we were welcomed with warm coffee, baked goods, and free loaves of bread. The ladies and gentleman working at the new restaurant and preparing for its debut on July 11 welcomed us with open arms. A speech was given about the “Mother Dough” and a ceremonial kiss was given to the dough from master baker Padilla. A beautiful day finished off with great food, a gift card, and a free jersey. No better way to end a ride.