“Kip Taylor used an early breakaway to win the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic professional men’s road race in 2 hours, 18 minutes, 39 seconds in his first attempt in the pro category. “It feels good showing those guys that the amateurs can get in there sometimes,” said Taylor, a former cross country runner at Fort Lewis College.” – Ryan Owens/Durango Herald
Read all about Kip’s solo breakaway to win this year’s Iron Horse Road Race in the Durango Herald’s article here.
Boy did I pick the right race to re-enter the triathlon world! After taking a 5 year break from triathlon, I threw caution to the wind, and entered the 2013 Spring Fling Triathlon put on by TriSports. On paper the race looked pretty good for me. Short swim, hilly bike, and a short run with a long slow climb at the end. I’m not the fastest runner, so I knew that I needed to blow out the swim and the bike, and then just hang on for the run.
The race started with a 400 yd. pool swim. There was a 10 second gap between each starting swimmer. It was a seeded start, so athletes could submit their swim time, and be assured that they would be swimming with competitors that were of approximate ability. This differs greatly from other races where you are not just battling the water, but also the breaststrokers, backstrokers, walkers, etc. It can sometimes be a combat zone in the water!
The swim went well, and before I knew it I was out of the water and on my bike. Short course, or long course, it always feels good to get the swim done! The bike course was a hilly “out and back”. I was racing on my Specialized Transition Expert. I LOVE that bike! It felt like I was flying up the hills! The nice thing about “out and back” courses is that you can see who is ahead of you and who is behind. I’m equally motivated by both! By the time I finished my bike leg I was told I was in 2nd place overall. (Because of the seeded swim start, it’s a little hard to tell what place you are in.)
I transitioned into the run and tried to shake out my dead legs. I had pushed the bike pretty hard, and now my legs felt like wood! Make that frozen wood! My transition was slow, but I managed to get myself on the run course. I was was wearing my Newton Distance shoes that I had just picked up at Sport Systems. Tove Shere was there as one of the volunteers at the race. She encouraged me to “start moving and GO GET THAT GIRL”! At the time I thought, “Tove doesn’t know that I can’t run!!!” I was clearly more concerned about the girls behind me than the one in front!
As luck would have it I was able to catch the girl in front of me with just a mile to go, and finish the race in first place overall. As all the other women started coming into the finish line, my time held. At the end of the race I was awarded Overall Female 1st place! Trust me, I’m as surprised as you are!!
For nutrition I used Cliff shot blocks in my favorite flavor–Cranberry!
On a side note, I was not the only MountainTop cyclist to race Spring Fling. My husband, Ries and our two kids, Rosby (10) and Skylar (8) did the whole triathlon as a team. They worked so hard, and I see amazing things ahead for them!
The Cavern City Classic was the next stop in the NM Racing Series this past weekend. The Second annual event really put an emphasis on catering to the competitive rider. Neutral feed zones (with water!), moto-bikes, Police officer escorts, 10! Porto-Johns at the start and a strong volunteer showing were just a few perks that riders were able to enjoy this weekend. The race organizers seemed to even strike a deal with the weather for next to perfect conditions both days!
Saturday Road Race Day 1:
The P-Cat 3 field had 6 total loops going up the infamous Skyline Road climb. At a mile long and 350 feet elevation gain this cat 4 rated climb is the defining point of both road races. Laps 2 and 4 offered a KOM challenge (5 points for 1st, 3 points for second and 1 point for third) which made things really interesting. Lap two made for an interesting climb up Skyline as it was the 1st KOM opportunity. Zia Velo’s David Vaughn went for the first KOM and strung out the field. Kip was able to latch onto David’s wheel come out in front for the First KOM. David came in second, with MTC’s Jonathan Petrillo (JP) coming in at third. Lap three is where things got interesting. After climbing up Skyline there is a steep descent on the back side with a fast sweeping right turn. MTC’s Fortunato Ferrara found himself in the front of the group at the bottom of the descent, and never looked back… after only a few minutes he had a gap all by himself. The other teams seemed to except it, and Fortunato’s move stuck for the rest of the day. This made MTC’s job considerably easy for the rest of the day. With Fortunato in a break by himself, the second KOM was a race for second and third. Kip again was able to capitalize on the valuable KOM points and come out with a second place finish, while JP was able to out kick David Vaughn for 3rd place (these points proved to be crucial for JP later!). Lap 5 was enough to keep only the climbing specialists in the game. The climb over Skyline on lap 5 was met with a ferocious attack made by Crazy Cat’s Manuel Salas. Kip was able to grab his wheel and make it over the top, but at the crest the rest of the field had faded. Manuel decided to capitalize on this move, and kicked it into overdrive down the decent. With FF still safely in front of the two man break, he came away with the race win for the day. Followed behind him was the dicey battle between Manuel and Kip up the last climb to the finish. Saving energy up to the final climb while Manuel was working hard to keep the gap he created, Kip was able to pull away and secure a 2nd place finish for the day. Manuel came in at third, while David Vaughn kicked it into high gear for a 4th place spot. JP came in at 5th place, however with his KOM efforts he was tied for 4th place with Manuel. Our super domestique Silvio Menezes finished 15th for the day (his superior performance was yet to come). After stage 1, Kip was in first place overall (due to the KOM points allocated during the day) while FF was one point back in second place, and of course JP in 4th.
Sunday Road Race Day 2:
Cool temps in the morning heated up quickly and by the time the race started (promptly at 8:00 a.m.) the weather was calm and about 60 degrees, perfect racing weather! With first and second place in a secure position, MTC had a goal of getting JP in a break so he could go for the stage victory! After a great neutral start which took the peloton down to the Pecos River and through Carlsbad suburbia the race got started on the north end of town. In somewhat classical NM fashion the pace was very pedestrian friendly as teams decided what the game plan would be… a few attacks proved unfruitful, however an attack by Zia Velo’s Frankie Benavidez scooped up a Crazy Cat rider along with our own JP… again in classical fashion they were gone, and the peloton went back to a nice pedestrian friendly pace. A few riders got to the front to pick the pace up, but our super domestique Silvio went up to the front and kept things in order. The breakaway quickly became a small speck in the distance, and JP’s chances for a win looked very promising. There was a 15 mile sprint bonus that JP won with little effort. These were 5 precious points that would come in very handy when all was said and done. When the race seemingly took the peloton in the middle of nowhere with cattle as our only specters, Scalo Veloce riders Thomas Jones and Matt Caruso decided to make things honest. They both got in front trading turns with one another while the rest of the peloton sat in and indulged on their hard work. Their pace was impressive, and when the race took a right turn north back towards the highway that would ultimately take the race back to Carlsbad, the breakaway was barely in sight, just cresting a hill. Associating bad luck and Thomas Jones seems cruel, but alas this was the case as he was spotted raising his left hand indicating that he had a flat. With the neutral support vehicle watching over the break Thomas was a bit … how do you say… screwed. His only bout of luck was getting a flat right next to a neutral water zone. We later found out that he was able to get a new wheel from another support vehicle and at least finish the race. Thomas, from all of us at SSMTC, we hope your spell of bad luck is done! Moving forward in the race, Matt found himself alone in front, and Crazy Cat seemed to take advantage of this (much like a mountain lion stalking its prey). Crazy Cat started attacking and attacking again… and AGAIN! This is where our super domestique Silvio came into play. He made Kip and FF’s job easy as he was in the front all day watching these attacks and bridging gaps when needed. He proved invaluable to our efforts. By the time we got out on the highway, we had an average pace well over 30 mph, and some other flat land studs like Marcel Berger from Zia Velo were jumping into the mix. With some heavy crosswinds the peloton was stretched out like a tightly wound rubber band and the pace was hard. It was enough to cough a few riders out the back, and when the race took its first of two rounds over Skyline the peloton was obliterated. Manuel from Crazy Cat took the reins and once we crested there was only a core group left. FF and Kip found themselves in the pack with Manuel, Dave Vaughn and Santiago Chavez… It was here with about 8 miles to go that the group caught up to the break away. JP latched onto our group and was still feeling good. We were almost certain that his break would last, and if one more rider would have gone with them at the beginning of the race, that most likely would have been the case. This group of six would ride up Skyline one last time, and JP was not going to go down without a fight. About 20 seconds into the climb JP launched to the front. He put Manuel from Crazy Cat in a tough spot as he fought to catch onto JP’s wheel. Both Zia Velo riders were out of matches for the day, so the group of 6 quickly went to 4. FF was playing it safe and watching the attacks very strategically. When Manuel was able to recover on JP’s wheel he quickly showed that he still had a fight left in him. He attacked and quickly formed a gap. JP was putting his engine past the red zone to catch on but a slight head wind proved just too much. Kip was able to pull away at the top for a solo finish to win the day while Manuel crossed in second. FF and JP crossed the line together in 3rd and 4th place, respectively. JP’s effort on the second day moved him up to 3rd overall. MTC again was able to sweep the podium and bring in some solid results.
Hard Racing, hard courses, and some great competition made for a fantastic weekend in Carlsbad. Another highlight of the weekend was seeing MTC’s own Joanna Eckstein getting her feet wet as a chief ref for the Cavern City Classic. She did a wonderful job. Our other teams had a strong showing overall with Roy Cuoco finishing 11th overall and Bill Dahl and Mike Slattery taking second and third respectively in the masters. We are already looking forward to this excellent race in 2014!
Where do you start with an event like this?
Saying thanks first to all the people that put this event together seems like a good starting point. To all of our teammates, sponsors and volunteers who dedicated their time to this cause, thank you very much. Special thanks go to Director Sportif Silvio Menezes, and the Eckstein’s for their stellar performance in making this the second largest race in the state of NM. With racers from numerous states, a streamlined race schedule and classic touches like a leader’s jersey; the Adoption Exchange Classic clearly has a bright and successful future.
Saturday— the Individual Time Trial:
One key difference to the AEC this year from last year was the schedule of events. Kicking off the event this year was the Individual Time Trial (followed by the Criterium in the afternoon). With more than 230 people lined up, the competetion in every category was fierce. In the men’s Pro-Cat III field this was also the case. Warm weather and mild wind made for excellent riding conditions, and times reflected this as well. When it was all said and done SSMTC had claimed the top 3 spots in the ITT. Meeting expectations Fortunato Ferrara came in first place over all with a time of 28:27. Kip Taylor followed up in second place with a time of 29:13, respectively. Rounding out the top three was Dave Carey with an insanely good ride. Dave came in at 29:17 which put him in a solid third place position, and again proving that he is a force to be reckoned with. What is equally impressive when looking at the results is the finishing time for the top ten. It was incredibly close. Two more MTC racers found their place here, with Jonathan Petrillo (19 years old!) in 7th place overall (29:38), and Damian Calvert a mere second off of JP (29:39). With MTC in the top three spots, the afternoon Circuit Race looked promising.
Saturday— NAPA Speedway Criterium:
What a great race. If you like a circuit race then this course is for you. SSMTC has worked tirelessly with NAPA motor speedway to make this a reality. Again, warm temperatures, and mild winds made for a fantastic event. In the Pro-Cat III field SSMTC was the clear team to watch/be attacked. That was the name of the game from the gun. Rival teams Scalo Veloce, HDB, HDB Masters and Zia Velo showed they were here to compete. Dave, Damian, Hans, JP and Scott all took turns at the front controlling attacks from the likes of John Verheul, Nicholas Lemke and Ryan Travelstead. The race stayed pretty tight and controlled until an attack lead Fortunato, Dave and Kip away from the peloton. With three of the top rides in a break away and little help from the other riders, the attack was scooped back in with about 20 minutes left. As expected attacks occurred, and were quickly scooped up by MTC. We had great control in the front. With about 15 minutes left in the race, Verheul made a move that put him about 10 meters in front of the group that was still in the race. Fortunato capitalized on this move immediately. Rather than killing the chances of a breakaway with one of our protected riders, MTC slowed the pace on the front, and just like that the two riders created a gap in a matter of minutes. That is the interesting thing about riding. You can go on the offensive all day, and it just takes one move to make or break the race… With Fortunato in a winning break with plenty of Omnium points to spare, the next task moved to a strong group finish. With 2 laps to go the pace heated up, and High Deserts Al Senft and Steve Alschuler really picked up the pace. At this point the field had detonated into about 15 riders. Leading into the final lap teams jostled for position and going into the last turn was an uphill climb to the finish. Trying to take advantage of the head wind and hill, Kip exploded at the bottom of the hill in hopes of neutralizing any nasty sprinters. It came down to the line with Eugene taking the sprint, Nick in 4th and Kip in 5th, respectively. Precious points were gained here considering the distance from 3rd-5th was about a half wheel. All in all the entire Race was fantastic. Not a single crash and SSMTC continued to hold the top three spots leading into Sundays Road Race.
“Hard” would be the word of the day. Head wind on Frost Road. Heartbreak Hill x 2. This is a hard race. Not the longest in the book, but hard. From the gun you could tell the field was feeling the effects of hard racing from the day before. Our goal however, was simple. Keep our top three, and get a stage win. With a race like this, and looking at the history of the race, we knew it would come down to the second climb over Heartbreak Hill. Some of the danger men were Kempton Jackson, David Vaughn, Gavin Kennard, and a handful of others. The first climb over Heartbreak created an initial breakaway that was enough to narrow the field, but ultimately got scooped up at the top of the hill on frost road. Coming into the second lap the field was back together at about 20 strong. About 5 miles before Heartbreak hill, the most aggressive move of the day came from Kyle Martinez. Kyle’s attack proved successful and although lonely (no one dared go with Kyle) he quickly created a gap from the main field. At only a half mile for the meat of the climb Heartbreak is not long, but with grades of up to 24% it is an equalizer. Damian launched a perfect attack at the base of Heartbreak and immediately shook the field. From here on it simply comes down to grinding to the top. Kip was able to launch in front of the pack and catch onto Martinez who was working hard to get over the top with the break away. When it was all said and done it came down to four riders, and a race to the finish: Kyle, Kempton, Fortunato, and Kip. With a group behind including a few MTC teammates, it was time to make a decision… put the hammer down and GO! Or hold off and re-group? It became immediate that this break away of four was going to go for it. With strong teammates behind us in the chase group, it was really a nothing to lose move, and it worked. The group of four turned into a group of three as Kyle ultimately burned too many matches. At the top of Frost hill, against a strong head wind, the group of three turned into a group of two. Kudos should go to Kempton Jackson for riding like an animal all day. From here on it was Kip and Fortunato, who pace lined to the finish for a 1st and 2nd place result! This was a great feeling after a race of pure attrition. A few minutes later the rest of the field came in. Letting Nick Lemke get away, the focus was ensuring that Dave would finish ahead of Verheul. Jonathan made a picture perfect move to defend Dave’s wheel, which put Verheul in a rough spot to make up ground on Dave. It came down to the line, with Dave edging Verheul slightly. Not an easy feat. And just like that we started where we finished in 1-2-3 overall… what a result! We simply had guys that were willing to unselfishly put themselves on the line, and do whatever was needed.
Sport Systems Mountain Top triathlete, Nathan Berg took home the victory in the Mens 30-39 at the El Paso Puzzler this past weekend. The El Paso Puzzler is billed as the toughest race in Texas. It is a very tough mountain bike course, and racers have the option of doing different races, some that include trail runs as well as bike. Nate competed in the 50 mile mountain bike race in 5:27 winning his age group and having this to say after.
“This is the most non stop rough and technical race course I have ever done. It is also one of the most fun, and well run races out there. I encourage anyone looking for a great race to give this a shot.”
Congrats Nate and way to kick off the 2013 season. For more information on the El Paso Puzzler Visit: puzzlerendurance.wordpress.com