Alma Gran Prix of Cyclocross

Harvey Elliott's Race Report from the Alma GP:
The 2014 Michigan Cyclocross Season is off to a bumpy start - literally - with the induction of the Alma GP.  While the rough course is stuff of bleeding hands and legendary heroes, the layout and execution by Brian Hancock and his volunteers was fantastic!  What was a former dump for the city of Alma had been transformed into an idyllic cyclocross venue with a number of embankments, two "Superprestige" sections, and a fun little set of Belgian steps.  Clearly, Brian and his crew spent some time figuring this one out!  

Tyler Trask makes it look easy in the Men's Cat 4.
The Men's Cat 4 race was lining up as Danny and I arrived in the morning.  Both Tyler Trask and Tyler Carlton looked good off the start and were clean through the first turn.  Tyler Trask was attacking like mad and quickly took the lead. He was punishing the competition and started to ride away from the other contenders by lap 2.  Tyler Carlton was stuck back with the pack, but riding well.  Trask was clearly working hard, but also out gunning the rest of the field and easily took 1st.  I think somebody is ready for an upgrade!

In the Men's Cat 3 race, a sketchy start left me about 15 places back and in the danger zone as riders were falling left and right.  The rough and technical nature of the course favored mountain bikes to CX and so I focused on cornering and clearing the barriers smoothly.  Being the second race the corners were starting to soften up and I chose to take a wide line for better traction.  The two places I deemed safe to pass were the barriers with a long run between and the front straightaway near the start/finish where the road was well packed.  Every lap I'd get one or two riders in these sections until I worked my way back up to 4th, but by this time the leaders had a significant gap.  Thankfully Brian Kearns made the break and held on for 3rd.  1st and 2nd went to the fat tires which could better deal with the shocks and stresses of this new venue.  Crossing the finish line I ripped my gloves off to reveal massive blisters.  Tom Barrett helped patch me up before we went to the start of the Cat 1/2/3 and Masters race.  

Building and "testing" the new ArborBikes

ArborBike put out a call for help to build 75 bikes for the new bike-share program in Ann Arbor. AAVC and Wheels in Motion responded in August with a 10-man team, including a professional mechanic, a bike repair course instructor, and many repair-it-yourself bike racers.

Over the course of the afternoon, the Club team completed 17 of the 44 bikes that were constructed that day. Unknown to our team at the outset, these bikes were specially designed by Trek to be indestructable to the public, and capable of carrying a sizeable load in a front basket. The front basket construction would haunt the memories of many on the team. Numerous security Torx screws required a special tool to install, and this front end assembly was unlike anything ever engineered for a bike.

Some of the final products were road tested by the Club, which inevitably turned into a parking lot criterium. Our winner, Matt Raezler, edged out Patrick McEnaney at the line.

Pikes Peak Hill Climb

From Harvey: we found the snow middle deep; no sign of beast or bird inhabiting this region. The thermometer which stood at 9° C above 0 at the foot of the mountain, here fell to 4° C below 0. The summit of the Grand Peak, which was entirely bare of vegetation and covered with snow, now appeared at the distance of 15 or 16 miles (24 or 26 km) from us, and as high again as what we had ascended, and would have taken a whole day's march to have arrived at its base, when I believed no human being could have ascended to its pinical. This with the condition of my soldiers who had only light overalls on, and no stockings, and every way ill provided to endure the inclemency of the region; the bad prospect of killing any thing to subsist on, with the further detention of two or three days, which it must occasion, determined us to return." – Excerpt from the Zebulon Pike Expedition, 1806, after a failed attempt to summit the mountain. 

Today, Pike’s Peak is a lot tamer than it was in 1806.  There’s a paved road and cog railway leading to a restaurant/souvenir shop at the summit.  However, it is still a proper mountain with an elevation of 14,115 feet (4,302 m) and prominence of roughly 8,000 ft (2,400 m) above downtown Colorado Springs.  The USAC Hill Climb route would take us up the same route that the International Auto Hill Climb has been using for 85 years.  This covers of the last 12.1 miles of this paved road from Crystal Creek to the summit with 4,688 feet of elevation gain, 154 switchbacks, and an average grade of 7.3%.  Now, that doesn’t sound too bad considering the fact that they can fit 10,000 feet of climbing in the Michigan Mountain Mayhem, but we are starting from an elevation over 9,000 feet!  The air gets pretty thin up there and just warming up I noticed a pretty significant shortness of breath.  The other thing I noticed was how under-dressed we were to be climbing a mountain.  I just had my M-Cycling skinsuit and jacket and my teeth were chattering!  The temperature was hovering ~45° F and I could see that the summit was already obscured by a lenticular cloud. 

Gaslight Criterium and Sylvania Cycling Classic

Below are race reports from Sunday: Lucas Wall at the Gaslight Criterium and Rob Shoemaker at the Sylvania Cycling Classic.
From Lucas:

I’d had the Gaslight Criterium as a major goal for the year I first planned out the racing season last winter. It’s a fast, slightly technical criterium right in the middle of Michigan’s crit season when I’m usually in the best shape of the year. I was just hoping it would be dry streets for the race.

The weather held out for race day which eased my nerves, but my schedule leading into the race wasn’t what I’d planned with a week-long trip to see family and attend a wedding which had me off the bike for a week. At least I was rested.

Jack Kunnen Photography: Gaslight Criterium 2014 &emdash; IMG_6887
I’d hoped to do the Pro/1/2 and Masters 35+ race double, but my schedule only allowed for one race, so it was just the Masters 35+ for me. I got in a good warm-up on the roads around the adjacent lake. I was feeling decent, but before a big race I’m always a little anxious and nervous, and it’s hard to get a read on how the legs are feeling. After many years I know this is normal, even good since I know I’m motivated and ready to race, so I tried to keep it in perspective.

Capital City Cycling Classic

Andrea Merlotti and Sara Seeley sprint for state championships in Womens Cat 4 & 3. Lucas Wall takes the top step of the podium for Masters 35-39 while Chris Winkler and Huy Tran took 3rd and 2nd respectively in the Cat 3/4 race. Here is a recap of all the action. 

The weather was perfect with sunshine and the temperature in the high 70’s at the State Capitol. AAVC had a huge turnout with riders in Womens Cat 3 & 4, Masters 35+, Cat 3/4, Pro/1/2 and Cat 5. The women and masters were racing for their state criterium championships (the other categories will contest the state championships Aug. 24).

Racing began with Matt Raezler racing in Cat 5. He raced well and finished mid pack in 11th. Lucas Wall brought the whole family to hangout and watch the Masters 35+ and Pro/1/2 races. The race started out quick with Rob Ehrmann leading a two man break that maintained a 10-25 second gap for 35 minutes of the race. As Lucas was the sole AAVC rider, he let Lathrup, LouisBenton, CFT, and Michigan NeuroSport take the responsibility of chasing the break as he sat in. The break was caught with 10 minutes to go and the field settled in for a sprint finish. Here is Lucas’s take on the final laps of the race:

CXpreX, pre-season clinic series for cyclocross, starts Aug. 14

Back for it's fourth year, CXpreX is a great way to start of the cyclocross season or just try out and learn about this fun style of bike racing!

Find out more about this series on the CXpreX website, register at USA Cycling, or follow event updates on the CXpreX Facebook page.
Click for full-size view.

Download a PDF version of the CXpreX flyer here.

Collection for Michael Kines

Update from Harvey, 7/31/14: Many people heard that Mike was involved in an accident on July 16 while racing at Waterford. He's has been at the University of Michigan Hospital the last couple of weeks and has been lucky enough to avoid needing any surgery. He is now recovering well. Kyle Schroeder and I have been collecting donations for a get-well fund. If you would like to contribute you can give to either of us in-person or use the PayPal donation button below. We look forward to seeing Mike healed up and back on the bike soon!

Update from Harvey, 9/01/14: Mike has been progressing well in rehab and is already back at the University.  When I saw him at the office in mid-August you would hardly know he was in an accident.  As far as biking goes, the doctors are prohibiting him from going out for another 3 or 4 months to avoid reinjury.  Still, he’s looking to re-enter biking and racing for the 2015 season. He’s got an indoor trainer and already looking forward to hours of suffering this Winter. Through the club, we were able to raise $550 in donations to help him get back in the game. I want to send a big thanks out to everyone that pitched in!  Seeing all those donations really made me proud to be part of this club!    

Maple Hill RR

We had a great turnout for the club at the Maple Hill Race for Wishes with nearly 20 AAVC’ers making the trip over to Kalamazoo.    The race was held in a rural area west of the city in Lawton Township and featured four short climbs of ~8% grade with a number of rollers.  In the Cat 4 race Tyler Trask and Harvey Elliott set out to punish the competition
Harvey Elliott sitting in at 4th wheel
from the start and set the pace for much of their four laps.  Of the 75+ riders who started the race, only 42 finished and of those only ~15 were there for the sprint.  For his part, Tyler really dished out the pain, but unfortunately crashed out with less than 2 miles to go.  Harvey was able
AAVC'ers setting the pace in the Cat 4 race  
to dive out of the lane to avoid the pile up, but didn’t have any more go for the finish and rolled in with the lead pack at 11th.  Fred Feng finished 3
3rd and Rob Shoemaker was just behind him at 35th. Rob had a short breakaway in the 3rd lap, but these guys ended up solo for much of the 4th lap when things got really hairy.  In the Cat 4 Womens race, Andrea Merlotti shined as a climber staying near the front the whole race and winning the group sprint to the finish.  With that performance she secured a new State Champion jersey and proved that she needs to upgrade!  While I can’t say much for the other races, I can report places. 

Cat 1/2: Rob Ehrman took an impressive 4th place
Masters 35+: Colin Hebert finished 11th and Lucas Wall 18th
Master 45+: David Fanslow 15th, Winston Benedict 21st, Kurt Schaldenbrand 36th
Cat 3: Danny Soltan 14th
Cat 4: Harvey Elliott 11th, Fred Feng 33rd, Rob Shoemaker 35th, Tyler Trask DNF
Cat 5: Ben Rothacker 8th and Michael Kines 14th
Cat 5 35+: Rob Grainger 4th and Matt Raezler 19th
Juniors: Vincent Vermeulen 4th
Womens Cat 4: Andrea Merlotti 1st