Rob Britt Race Report: An Inside Look at Bike Racing

Rob Britt, one of Studio Velo's own, shares his experience in the Folsom Cyclebration Race. The Studio Velo team is an informal, but tight group of riders and friends. For those of you who don't race this is an awesome window into the emotions, challenges, and rewards of racing. Thanks for sharing Rob and congratulations! 

 


Folsom Cyclebration Race Summary
Category: Masters 35+ 3/4
Results: 1st overall in Omnium Points (TT=10th, CRIT=6th, Circuit=3rd)

The original plan back in April was to rally my family and Studio Velo teammates (Scott, Thomas and/or Josh) to make the pilgrimage to the Mt Hood CC. Everyone was interested in epic Oregon cycling but the logistics are challenging, so when I saw the Folsom Cyclebration Races on the schedule for the same dates I decided to check it out as an alternative. Folsom is quite different from Hood River in many ways but it actually turned out to be a fantastic weekend and the family was able to come along which made it much more enjoyable. We stayed in Rancho Cordova, got a suite for a great rate, free breakfast, a pool for the kids and I was able to ride to the venue each day from the hotel.  

Day 1: 11 Mile TT - There were about 24 participants total and even though I hadn't spent much time on a TT bike I was hoping that I would be a bit more competitive. My performance was a bit of a wake-up call to the fact that I need more practice on the bike itself, my pacing, my power, etc.  I started fast but probably too fast. After 3 minutes of averaging 28.5 I watched the rate slowly tick down for the next 20 minutes. It turns out that the crosswind at the start offered false hope...it was more of a tailwind that I had mistaken for awesome form! By the last 2k my lungs were searing. The wind was also stirring up pollen so my throat was burning as well and I was glad that I wasn't going to make the start time for the M123 TT (I went with the idea of doing 2 omniums over the weekend). I ended up 10th with a 25.5 MPH avg. I need to knock a minute off that time minimum. More intervals.

Day 2: Crit (45 min) - Since I figured my Omnium chances were pretty bleak with the TT placing I decided my new strategy was to race as aggressively as possible and accumulate the bonus points that were being offered as primes. I spent quite a bit of time off the front of this race but I never had any takers to come up and join. At one point I spent 3 laps off alone. I never had much of a threatening gap but I won 4 primes this way and also was awarded the "Cycles Gladiator Most Aggressive Rider" as a result. That was pretty cool I thought, so I now felt like I had made up for the TT performance and was smiling again. : ) In the final sprint I made a bit of a mistake by keying in on a particular rider that I thought was going to contend for the win. I got a late start on getting to the front and wound up 6th, having to move thru lots of traffic due to my bad decision.

When the points were added up I was surprised to learn that I was now the omnium points leader. A bunch of new riders joined after the TT and apparently none of the Day 1 guys finished ahead of me in the sprint. This coupled with the bonus points put me ahead by 2 points but the top 5 standings were tight. I decided this omnium format is cool and seems to work for me. : )

Brief aside...Later in the afternoon I jumped into the M123 Crit to get some additional work in. Since it was super windy and I had not seen a break stick all day I figured I would sit in and give the final sprint a go. Of course this would be the race where a lovely 8 man break gets up the road with all the big teams represented. I was so annoyed for not being in it that I went to the front to chase...then tried to bridge 3 times...and then realized it was silly and surrendered.  

Day 3: Circuit (Flat 50 min)-  The fact that this is a points-based event with riders being able to enter at any point makes things interesting. The same weird way I acquired the lead could easily be the way I lose it. After much thought I concluded that there is really no strategy but to get a very high placing to maximize my probability of hanging on.

I noticed a few guys following me around the pack on the first couple of laps so I decided that I was going to keep doing what got me into the lead...attacking. I got in a few non-threatening breaks but it seemed to get everyone else thinking defensively so on the last couple of laps I felt more comfortable sitting in and waiting for a sprint. This time I focused on staying at the front. A win would be awesome of course but I was thinking that a top 5 would be good enough for the overall. Anything lower would not do it given the tight spread.  

Going into the last turn I noticed the 2 guys right behind me on points were right in front of me with 350 meters. I hesitated a bit to make sure I was going to at least beat them...then I jumped to try to catch 2 guys that had gained a gap while I hesitated. It was a drag race with one other guy (who went on to win it) and I just came up short of catching the lead guy of the 2 who were clear...putting me third.

Video footage of finish here (along with a link to the "photo finish" shot!): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QnToFXrdtzU

The 3rd place finish secured first place in Omnium points. Over the course of the weekend I won $175, a ton of sport drink product, 3 bottles of rancid wine (I will drink them though!), 1 six pack of beer, pint glasses, cycling eye glasses, key chains, bottle openers and coupons for stuff in Folsom that probably expire today. And my Cycles Gladiator hat with "most aggressive racer" written on the back...which I will treasure and wear in my sleep probably.  ; )

My wife and 2 daughters were at the final stage cheering me on which motivated me to give that little extra...I definitely needed their energy since everything was so close. The 2nd place finisher overall was only 3 points behind. Overall a great weekend and it would be real cool to bring a few teammates/friends/family up for next year if Folsom does it again. The format keeps everyone in it until the end (unlike a typical stage race where the TT gets weighted more heavily) so it would be kind of cool to be able to strategize and consider various outcomes as a team...or just talk smack a bit. : )

Waffles on the Road?

 

What are the guys in the pit eating while they ride? Honey Stinger Waffles and Chews. Why? 

Taste - for a lot of cyclist it’s hard to consume enough calories to sustain you. It is much easier to remember to eat when you have something tasty to look forward to. “What sets Honey Stinger apart is the real food taste,” says Chef Ritchie. The waffles inspired by the delicious European snack and transformed into an energy packed fuel, are delicious and a far cry from the typical dry energy bar.

Organically made, gluten and dairy free Honey Stinger products are a guilt free energy source. Simply produced and easy for your body to turn into energy - Honey Stinger is softer on the stomach.

The chews consistency is actually less chewy and easy to get down while still pedaling.  A small brand alternative conceived in partnership with Lance Armstrong Honey Stinger is a product that will not disappoint. 

            

We were first introduced to the Honey Stinger brand when owner and founder, Scott Penzarella, was training for Leadville 100, see blog HERE!

Used and loved by some of the top cyclists in the world Honey Stinger embodies our commitment to quality. Understanding the important balance between taste and performance is imperative when it comes to nutritionals and we think Honey Stinger nailed it. 

 

 

Tried and True - What's New at Studio Velo

 

 The cycling season is in full swing and we are excited to share some of the new products we have been testing and falling in love with this winter. 

Scott came back from the Boulder Roubaix bubbling about a hydration sample he  received mid race from Dr. Allen Lim himself. Skratch Labs has made a huge splash in the cycling world – taking exercise drinks to an unprecedented level and we have been incredibly impressed with all of their products. We take pride in using everything we sell from the bicycles down to the nutritionals we offer. Skratch Labs exercise drink mix has been flying off our shelves ever since we started stocking it. We just got a new round in and we encourage you all to try it. It’s honestly the best in the industry. Check out Scott's blog about the Boulder Roubaix here!

We are also super pleased with the new spring jerseys from Rapha this season; both the regular lightweight and the super lightweight offer the expected Rapha quality, comfort, and performance. We are also carrying their Pro Team Base Layers, which are awesome for the competitive rider and for the summer heat. We suggest sizing up though, as their competitive cut is tighter than their jerseys, unless you are looking for a true body fit. Keep an eye out for Studio Velo riders headed to Eastern Sierra's at the end of this month -  no doubt they will be wearing some of the best from Rapha's spring collection while riding through Death Valley. See more about our Eastern Sierra adventure here!

 

          

Finally, just in, Barfly is flying hot off our shelves and for good reason. This simple seeming attachment device for your Garmin will change your vision on the bike. Locally made and super lightweight the Barfly is an obvious addition for any Garmin users. Available online!

 

Mavic helmets are something else we have been awaiting this winter. Simply put, Mavic makes an incredibly light and comfortable helmet without compromising your protection. Just ask Chris Reed, our head mechanic and Studio Velo partner, he always rides in his Mavic and loves it.


Riding race wheels daily

Lately, we have been selling many a race wheel to the serious recreational cyclist. Is this poor form, you ask?  Do riders really need aero wheels if they can't maintain an average of 18 mile per hour most of the time? 

We don't think so. While we don't totally embrace the use of tubular race wheels for everyday riding, especially here in Marin County where the roads are less than third world, we think a tubeless or clincher aero wheelset has some serious advantages.  And most important are fun to ride. 



The Mavic Cosmic Carbon SLR, one of our favorite deep-dish, clinchers, stands high above all other wheels in the aero, sub 60mm depth class.

Here is why: The Cosmic Carbone SLR is the first aerodynamic clincher Wheel-Tire System. These wheels pair up with a light-weight and highly efficient rolling system (tire), offering many a benefit on the road and on the race course. The exclusive Exalith technology enhances the braking efficiency and the overall look, matching nicely with any stealth bummer.


A few key benefits that you will want to remember:  

The Wheel-Tire combination comes with the front GripLink & rear PowerLink tire, both slick looking while offering high performance and thus far (more than 750 miles) puncture protection. 
The Exalith braking is improved in both wet and dry conditions and have a distinctive full black finish. 
I can emphasize enough how much better these wheels stop in both conditions. Think, the first time you road a disc brake mtb after years of hand fatigue. While the braking is not that much better, it does contrast the standard alloy braking surface combined with the standard brake pad.

The aerodynamics of these wheels speak for themselves. Though not the lightest 50+mm wheels on the market, the Cosmic Carbon SLR roll fast and sound fast!  
I liken it to a spaceship taking off.

With 52 mm elliptical rims and integrated aero spokes, which reduces frontal drag, the 
profiled hub caps provide low frontal drag and a stylish and clean finish on any bike

At under 1595 grams with 12k carbon flanges on superlight alloy rims, coupled with carbon spokes that you can true, this wheelset is hard to pass up.  Think fast, durable and easy to true. A true 1,2, 3 punch in a category where normally 2 out of 3 is the best combination. 

Come ride a pair anytime at Studio Velo. 


Trying to Recreate the Coast Ride

Running through the Presidio early Friday morning, my camera banging against my knees, I learned what it meant to be apart of the Studio Velo biking community. Fearing I would be left behind, and regretting my decision to walk to the Sports Basement meeting place, I nearly ran past the friendly face that pulled over to offer me a ride. “Are you headed to the Coast Ride?” Not a question I would have thought to ask a disheveled bikeless sprinter - just one of the perks of representing Studio Velo. Thanks to my token Studio Velo black T-shirt  and the caring SF bike community I was given a ride to the group and was able to begin my journey as SAG.

As a new California resident I hadn’t had the opportunity to explore much South of San Francisco. The route and pace set by the bikers gave me ample opportunity to observe the light blue water of the central coast, already so much more welcoming than the darker seas up North. Following the trail of bright kits I was in awe as we moved in and out of the fog along the cliffs counting cows and bikers and taking green tinted photos through the windshield. 

 Having conquered Santa Cruz, a long swim, and feeling buoyant with warm weather energy- day number two brought more to absorb. Despite my momentary dismay when my crew of cyclists crossed the railroad tracks and disappeared behind the Santa Cruz boardwalk; I quickly realized you couldn’t get too lost following the water. Sneaking through parts of towns I never would have known to look for, passing bustling beach breaks and farm stands advertising fried artichokes I determined I would have to come back and ride my bike along this route. 

Having up until this point considered cycling an individual sport I found the community energy very appealing. As I drifted along behind the group or leap frogged ahead to take pictures, I took note of the constant motion as each person took turns pulling.  As the cyclists shed layers and everyone stopped for water - I was starting, in my own way, to feel a real role in our team.

 It was with renewed excitement that I reconnected with my group passing the electric pink coast in Monterey and on to 17 Mile Drive. Fortunately, my role as sag was hardly necessary, for the most part people were well prepared and strong. However, as Meredith Kessler one of the Velo Sf guides said, “It is much easy to relax and have a good time when you are aware support is available.”

 

Driving a support vehicle for the Coast Ride was an awesome opportunity to explore California, meet and get to know the people I see in the shop, and get a better understanding of our cycling community. Last weekend I made my way South again. I parked my car and I did a little wandering on my bike. The pace, mobility, and the experience of propelling yourself along the coast is unique in the distance you can gain while truly experiencing the environment you are in. I'm sold!