Spring Fling Week 3

By: Garrick Valverde

It’s Saturday afternoon and a group of our riders decided to meet at Chipotle to have a pre race meal and to discuss tactics a few hours ahead of the race. The weather could not have been better. We ate outside in the sun while cracking jokes and raising all of our excitement for the race to come.

On race day I always get waves of nerves. They come up sometimes randomly and I feel them in my gut, like a jolt of energy. While we’re talking strategy someone will say, “Ok, so Garrick you’ll attack coming into the 3rd lap. Go hard but don’t be doing 1000 watts.” SMASH there goes another wave. No one sitting around the table would ever notice; the nerves are hidden. When I was first starting out racing these waved of nervousness used to make me feel sick to the point where I couldn’t eat. Now I welcome them. I even look forward to them. They charge me up.

After we all got registered and our numbers were pinned, we set out on an easy hour and a half ride to warm up and fine-tune our strategy. We knew we’d be the biggest team with seven riders so we’d have many cards to play. Our prime objective was to get Michael Allison the win. The spring fling is a point-based series. Michael won the first weekend, and a win today would help secure an overall win for the series. The race course is a flat .8 mile loop. Breakaways are almost always the final outcome, and there are three sprint laps with points up for grabs to the top four riders.

I lined up next to Benn Stover on the start line at the back of the field of just over 20 riders. Small races many times prove to be the hardest with nowhere to hide. Benn and I quietly talked with each other about which teams and specific riders to be aware of. The race started and the pace was quite chill for the first couple laps. Our objective these first few laps was to float mid pack and attempt to make a selection with as many of the Olathe Subaru riders as possible coming into the 3rd lap. My role was to gun it coming through the start finish with several of the team on my wheel. The hope was that we could get a split on the field after turn 1 and 2. As we approach the 3rd lap, I crouched low over my bars and went for it. After 15 or so seconds of hard pulling, I flicked my elbow for Kent to come through. We were flying. But as I looked back, the whole field, although strung out, were on our wheels. As Benn started his pull I shouted to scratch the plan.

The pace lulled for just a couple seconds. With some great improvisation, Kent attacked. The field hesitated. Grayson Warrior from Team Colavita went and I got on his wheel. At this point, race tactics have to be primarily reaction based. Things are happening so fast and the pain is quite high that, for me anyways, I’m not really thinking much. I’m just highly aware of the situation.

Grayson made a massive effort up to Kent, but the field was close behind us. Ian Silovsky countered and again the field lulled. A few different teams worked to pull Ian back. It took about a half lap. Once he was caught, Benn attacked by himself. I’ll just say at this point I’m hurting. I’ve gone hard several times in the span of less than ten minutes. With such few riders to help pull these attacks back, I know the break will likely form in the next few laps.

With Benn about 30 meters up the road, the chase took a momentary pause as the riders taking turns at the front look for help. Michael Allison and I attacked at this moment and a few riders went with us. I believe we had five total, but unfortunately Benn was not with us, so our representation in the break could have been better. About a lap and a half goes by and my pain is bad. I’ve been taking really hard pulls (maybe harder than I should have) to get the break established. I’m a little fuzzy on the details but Benn, Scott, and another rider made a great bridge to our group. A sharp acceleration for a preme dropped me. I was in no mans land trying to claw my way back when Joe Petersen from Rasmussen Bike Shop caught me. I’ll be honest, I haven’t heard of Joe before, but he is tough. He pulled me up to the break, now seven riders strong (four Olathe Subaru riders). The other riders are Joe, Jack Funk from Team Arapahoe Resources, and Ethan Luebbe from Blue River Bicycle club.

The seven of us were pulling well together and we went though the start line and heard the gap was 20 seconds to the field. At this point, I was solely focused on our tempo. The laps ticked down surprisingly fast. While the break was forming, we had our first sprint at 25 laps to go. I believe Michael was 2nd. The second sprint was at 15 laps to go and Michael won that. Michael won the final sprint lap with 9 to go. Scott Williamson took 2nd in couple of the sprint laps, earning him valuable points. At some point we lapped the field. The main focus was on the three other riders. Jack was the only one really going for a solo ride and his numerous attacks really hurt, however there were too many of us there to chase him down. With one lap to go, Benn led the field for ¾ of the lap. Coming out of the second to last turn I gave it everything I had with Michael on my wheel. We came through the final turn and the rest of the riders were gapped off. With 200 meters to the line Michael opened up his sprint. I looked back and saw our gap, and I couldn’t help but celebrate early with a fist pump. We did it. Michael 1st, Scott 2nd, me 4th, Benn 7th, and Kent 8th. For sure a great day of racing.

Next weekend we’ll be at Spring Fling on Saturday and head to NWA Classic in Arkansas on Sunday.

image

 

 

 

Tour of Corsicana 2015

This weekend the team traveled down south to Corsicana, Texas for the Tour of Corsicana. It’s a two day, three stage race with a 5 mile TT on Saturday, 60 min crit Saturday night, and an 88 mile road race on Sunday. We drove down Friday night and stayed in a renovated three story art studio. The building is used to house artists that travel to Corsicana to work on projects without distraction, in a creative environment. They had some beautiful artwork displayed throughout the building, which was a unique experience compared to the usual hotel stay.

Saturday 

The time trial was a slightly downhill 4.7 mile point to point. We knew going into it that we would probably have to make up time in the crit and road race since none of us have TT equipment. The time differences were fairly minimal so we were hopeful that the next two stages would give us some opportunities to move up in the GC.

Following the TT, we spun back to the studio, ate some lunch, and took it easy before the crit which wasn’t until 8:30pm. The course was .9 miles with 6 turns and two brick sections. For the first 40 minutes of the race it was full gas and Michael, Kent, and Garrick followed several moves but the field of 71 riders was clearly unwilling to let a break get away. With 9 laps to go, Garrick was getting caught from a break going into the final corner. The final corner had been tricky all race because there was a line of water draining across the apex of the turn that had caused a number of crashes throughout the day. Since the field was making the catch through that corner, Garrick took a deviated line and slid out on the inside. The field went left, so Garrick was the only one involved and was able to rejoin the group the next lap. Elbowz and Arapahoe Resources had quite a bit of fire power at the front of the race and kept things fast coming into the final laps, ensuring that no surprise attacks would get away. With one to go Michael and Garrick were near the front fighting for position in the top ten. The last few turns offered little opportunity to gain any position as the pace was high and the turns were tight. Michael was 8th position coming into the last corner and sprinted past two lead out men to take 6th, and Garrick sprinted his way from about 15th position to 7th.

Sunday

After the crit, Michael, Garrick, and Kent were our highest placed riders in the GC, about a minute down. Our goal was to put one of them in the break and make up that time. The course was 4 laps on a flat 22 mile loop. On the first loop, out priority was to stay near the front and monitor any early moves, however no attacks got up the road that established significant time. Going into the second lap the race started getting more animated. Despite Elbowz having 2 riders in the top 3 overall, it was clear they wanted to get one of them into a break so they could take the win. This made the first part of the second lap fast and difficult due to the constant jumps. About half way through that lap things began to settle down and a move with Arapahoe Resources and another rider slipped up the road. Kent quickly reacted and the field was content to let them gain some time. Once the break got about 30 seconds, people started to attack in an effort to bridge. Benn covered an attack from Elbowz and Giant On Road and the field let them get away. Once the group made the bridge they gained a little over a minute. The entire third lap was stop and go from riders making efforts to bridge up to the break. It wasn’t until the end of the third lap before an organized chase formed on the front to pull the move back. The field made the catch going through the start finish of the final lap and counter attacks started to go with Michael and Garrick covering anything that got away, however the field was clearly not going to let anything else up the road. Coming into the final stretch of road, Michael, Garrick, and Austin were sitting near the front and Scott made his way up into the top 20. Sheehan from Elbowz was trying to get away to make up time in the GC and take the win. Michael marked his wheel in the finishing stretch and followed two attacks that would both eventually get brought back. A counter attack of six guys got away with about a 15 second advantage, and the field ran out of road to make the catch. Austin led Garrick and Scott out for the field sprint, and they were able to take 11th and 12th on the stage.

Ian raced in Kansas at the Spring Fling and Perry and placed 6th and 3rd on those races. This weekend we will be doing the Spring Fling on Saturday and Tour of St. Louis Sunday.

 

 

Spring Fling Recap

This past weekend we kicked off our season at the Spring Fling Crit in Lawrence. I was pretty nervous all morning going into the race, which is pretty typical for the first few races of the season for me. Kent, Scott, Ian, and I all rode out to Lone Star before the race to get a longish warmup in, and by the time we got back to Clinton Lake I was much more relaxed than I had been earlier in the day. Austin met up with us at the start line. With the nice weather, there was a decent turnout, with 31 starters towing the line.

The race was pretty calm at the beginning. In the past, the first few laps of the Spring Fling have been some of the hardest that I will do all year, but this year we kind of eased into it. After about three laps, the first attack went up the road with little reaction from the field. He dangled about 5-10 seconds up the road for about a lap and a half before there was any sort of response from anyone. Connor Brown (Gateway Harley Davidson) was the first to counter coming through the start/finish and I was on his wheel so it was easy to cover. The two of us have been in quite a few breakaways together as we have moved up through the categories, so getting away with him I thought had a decent chance of sticking. The next time around the bell rang signaling a prime lap so I did a quick check to see where the field was. I could see Kent trying to bridge so I let Connor do the majority of the pulling that lap so Kent could make it up to us. I took the prime and waited for Kent to latch on

Once Kent joined, the three of us worked together to increase our lead on the chasing field. Coming into 20 laps to go we got the bell for another prime and I took my pull early so that Kent could lead us out going into the final couple of corners. I sat on Connor’s wheel going into the last corner and won the preme by a bike throw. We waited for Kent to rejoin and continued to share the workload pretty evenly. We had about 25-30 seconds on the chase group at this point so I knew with the three of us working together, it was pretty unlikely that the chase group of five would catch us.

The next prime was with ten laps to go, and I knew that if I won this one, that I would for sure have first place solidified since the Spring Fling is a points based race. Again, Kent led it out going into the final two corners, and I was able to slip past Connor at the end. At this point the only goal was to keep the pace steady so that the chase group wouldn’t catch us. Despite having the advantage in points over Connor, he put in an Ian Stannard-esque move coming into three laps to go. Kent had just finished a turn at the front, so I had to react quickly to reel him back in. When we caught Connor, Kent attacked, and once Connor reeled him back in I put in a hard dig and was able to hold it until the finish. It was a fun way to end the race, so props to Connor for mixing things up in the final laps.

I’d like to thank Kent for the work he did to get himself up to the break and help me take the win. Also, thanks to Scott, Ian, and Austin for the work they did marking moves that helped us keep our advantage up the road.

Down in Arkansas, Garrick and Benn took 3rd and 4th representing KU at a collegiate road race.

Next weekend we head to Texas for the Tour of Corsicana. It’s a two day stage race. A few of us are staying for a few days after the race to get in some good training during our Spring Breaks.

Spring Fling 123 Results

Spring Fling week 1

Rider Bio: Michael Allison

My journey into this sport really begins the summer before my freshman year of high school with a movie called You, Me, and Dupree. This movie is not about cycling at all, but in the movie Dupree gets a bike and this somehow convinced my buddy and I that we needed to get road bikes. We both bought entry level bikes, mine being a Diamondback Podium 1. The riding was sparse, but I enjoyed riding on the bike paths during summer break.

A few summers later my family was preparing for our annual trip to Nebraska to visit my grandma. I brought my bike along so that my cousin Aaron and I could go for a ride. At this point I still rode in cotton tee shirts, basketball shorts, and toe clips. That Saturday morning Aaron and I ventured out for a 20 mile casual loop with my dad and brother on some of Lincoln’s bike trails. It was a pretty casual ride. After we returned to the house a couple hours later, Aaron filled his bottles up in preparation to go out for some additional miles. He invited me along, and despite being pretty tired, I agreed. He had some extra cycling shoes that were my size and an old set of Speedplay pedals that he assured me would make a huge difference. After explaining how clipless pedals worked and crashing in the grass a few times, we rolled out for round two. I crashed two more times at stoplights on the ride, and had my first experience bonking. At the end of the day I had logged a little over 50 miles and I was hooked. I bought some bike shorts and a jersey the next week and began to do “races” (charity rides) around the KC area.

Cotton Tee, Bball Shorts, and Clipless pedals. Nebraska 2009

 

Later that summer in '09 I discovered how awesome bike shorts were.

Later that summer in ’09 I discovered how awesome bike shorts were.

That spring, I decided I was ready to upgrade from the charity ride events, to real bike races. I went to the Trek Store and picked up a badass race machine, the Trek 2.1. I was told to do the local training crits, Tuesday Night Worlds, to get a feel for how actual bike racing worked. I don’t think I’ll ever forget my first TNW. After doing a neutral lap, I was so caught up in the excitement of riding in a pack and the speeds that we were going that I went full gas off the front of the group. I was going faster than I had ever gone on a bike before, but one lap later the group came flying past me and I was off the back. Despite getting lapped what felt like hundreds of times, soft pedaling my way to the finish, and nearly throwing up after the race, I was still pretty intrigued by the whole racing thing. I had no idea how people would ride to the race and then ride home, and simply call it “training”, but I wanted to get to that point. I could barely manage to walk afterwards. I ended up doing a few more TNWs, but after getting dropped and lapped for a couple weeks straight, I decided bike racing might not be for me and looked into doing triathlon.

First Tuesday Night Worlds experience. Got lapped many a time.

First Tuesday Night Worlds experience. Got lapped many a time.

In August of 2010, I did the Jackson County triathlon in Lee’s Summit. I didn’t really train for it, other than the usual one or two rides a week plus the morning workouts for football. The swim just about killed me, the bike was super fun to me, and the run was a means to the finish. I got a tri coach, and over the course of the next year decided I was going to make an effort to get pretty decent at the multisport gig.

First triathlon ever. Jackson County Triathlon 2010

First triathlon ever. Jackson County Triathlon 2010

After high school, I went on to K-State and became pretty involved in the cycling club there. I still considered myself a triathlete, but the more group rides I did, the more bike racing began to appeal to me. That January the K-State team was planning a California training trip, and as the excitement built for that, I decided I would give bike racing a try that spring. Zach Dubas introduced me to the Lawrence racing team, GP Velotek, and even though I was still pretty unfamiliar how being on a team worked, I decided I would join. I spent the early part of that spring season racing every weekend I could, and doing every group ride I could. It didn’t take too long to upgrade to a 4. After the early spring races were over, I switched to doing collegiate racing. Since I was a 4, I was able to race in the Cat B collegiate fields, and at the time most collegiate races in our conference were Cat A/B. There were some talented Cat 1’s and 2’s in those fields so I basically had gone from racing Cat 5 to Cat 1/2/3 races in the matter of a few months. I got my ass kicked, but it was a huge learning experience and motivated me to want to get to their level. I upgraded to a Cat 3 at the end of the collegiate season. Around that time I was offered an entry from one of my teammates for the Dirty Kanza 200. My cousin Aaron was planning on racing, and the thought of a 200 mile bike race seemed exciting, so I figured why not? I mean, it’s only 200 miles… I finished in 16 hrs 38 min on my mountain bike. The experience was great, however I spent the rest of that Summer and early Fall with hamstring tendonitis. Pro tip, train for DK correctly!

Pretty sure this is my first race ever. Spring Fling 2012

Pretty sure this is my first race ever. Spring Fling 2012

I was making the face then too. KSU Road Race 2012

I was making the face then too. KSU Road Race 2012

Dirty Kanza 2012- Finished in 16hrs 38min

Dirty Kanza 2012- Finished in 16hrs 38min

At the end of 2012 I hired Jim Whittaker to coach me, which was really when I began to take the sport seriously. I began the 2013 season learning how to race, since I had spent most of 2012 simply hanging onto the Cat A/B collegiate races. It took awhile, but by the end of the season I was comfortable testing different tactics to figure out my strengths and weaknesses before upgrading. I ended 2013 upgrading before Gateway Cup and winning Kansas Best All Around Rider in the Cat 3’s.

Milan San Kansas. Actually, Spring Fling 2013

Milan San Kansas. Actually, Spring Fling 2013

Tour of Lawrence Crit Cat 3

Tour of Lawrence Crit Cat 3

Won the Cat 3 Kansas Best All-Around Rider in 2013

Won the Cat 3 Kansas Best All-Around Rider in 2013

For 2014 I had a strong spring and got some decent results locally and was able to help my teammates at regional races. The highlight of last year was getting a really solid build for the end of the season and being able to animate the race each day at Gateway Cup, picking up some primes, and missing out on a solo win by one lap at the Giro Della Montagna stage.

U23 Nationals Road Race 2014

U23 Nationals Road Race 2014

Tour de Francis Crit at Gateway Cup 2014. Crashed, attacked, attacked some more, caught with one to go...

Giro Della Montagna Gateway Cup 2014. Crashed, attacked, attacked some more, caught with one to go…

2014 was a huge learning experience for the team as a whole. I’m extremely excited to build off of my personal 2014 successes, help get the team some results this season, and make this my best year on the bike yet! Thanks for the support, and I’m excited to see you all at the races!

Olathe Subaru Cycling 2015