Thursday, April 23, 2015

April 21, 2015


After San Dimas, some of us headed to Thousand Oaks California, to train at our teammate Peters, Uncle’s House. We were there for about a week before Redlands, so we each had time to get back into the swing of training and race preparation. After talking with my coach, the plan was for me to go out for 2 major days and get in big climbs. I was a bit nervous about my fitness on the larger climbs, because I had never ridden them before; in my area the largest climb is only 13 minutes, whereas in Thousand Oaks I was able to hit 35-minute climbs. After my 4.5 hour 9300 foot climbing day, I was confident and excited for the Summit finish at Redlands.
Thousand Oaks
Thousand Oaks, is a beautiful suburban area, with tons of bike lanes, and only 13 miles from the Pacific Coast. Between the house and the coast were thousands of feet of climbing, that a handful of professional cyclists call home. It was an exciting place to train, and perfect for the lead up to Redlands. While there, Jamie came out to visit, and meet some of my teammates. We were able to spend a few fun days together, head to Santa Monica, and spend one day in Redlands together. In essence, she got to see the super exciting day of a professional cyclist. Wake up, ride your bike, dip your feet in the pool, eat, sit on the couch, then eat some more.

On the fourth day in Thousand Oaks, I got a call from Matt Green to start heading to the hospital. Our teammate Brecht Dhaene had crashed along the pacific coast and broke his collarbone. A huge bummer for him and the team, but thankfully he’s already had a successful surgery and looking forward to Joe Martin.


The Redland’s roster was Matt Green, Max Jenkins, Clay Murfet, Cortlan Brown, Jake Silverburg, Dan Gardner, and myself. It was our first NRC race together and we knew it would be a learning experience. The race itself is 5 days and consists of a circuit race in town, a time trial at Big Bear Lake, a summit finish on Oak Glen, a criterium in downtown, and the famous Sunset Loop.

Highland Circuit Race

Originally Brecht was our go to guy for this stage but with his collarbone issue, we had to rework the plans. It’s hard knowing who would be on, but Clay was sprinting well so the goal was to lead him into the finish, while Cortlan Brown and I looked for moves. Cortlan won the first KOM sprint (the one I got last year), shortly after I found my way into a break. That move came back pretty quickly, but my legs were good. Finally, a real good group went for the time bonuses, I hopped on the wheel, and coming over the top I realized I was off the front. Josh Berry of Jelly Belly and I ended up gaining around 40 seconds on the field and we rode it for a few laps. Eventually, Brendan Rhim of Cal Giant bridged to us, and we worked together for a half lap. After it got negative, Josh and I sat up, with Brendan continuing on.

Feeling good I went back to the field, knowing the sprint would be crazy. With 2 laps to go, Hincapie went to the front and drilled it. The field quickly blew to pieces, as time gaps began opening up. Clay went into the hill a little too far back so each of us had to survive to the finish. In the end Cortlan won the KOM jersey for the stage, and the team was well represented in all the major moves.

I didn’t choose the thug life, it chose me.

Litespeed sent us awesome prototype TT bikes, which a few of us were going to use for this stage at Big Bear Lake (To quote Clay Murfet, more like Big Bearly any water). With the team not knowing what to expect from me going into the season, I wasn’t able to practice a ton before this stage. Regardless, I got all aeroed out and tried to ride my bike fast, losing some time to the top guys. (Definitely a weakness of mine at the moment)

Oak Glen Summit Finish

While not a crazy summit finish, it was still a summit finish, and the most exciting stage for me at Redlands. The climb was around 5.3 miles once you turned off the circuit and reached a little over 5000 feet (Around 75 miles for the day). The team had faith in me, and kept me out of the wind all day, so on the final lap of the circuit, the heavy hitters moved to the front and the fireworks started. Thanks to my team, I was ready.

I made my way to the front, and kept an eye on major accelerations. Turning onto Oak Glen, the field was lined out and I was sitting perfect in the top 15. While no major accelerations came, the field was slowly dropping. Around 2.5 miles into the climb I looked around and there were only 12 of us left. A guy old enough to be my dad (who happens to be a grand tour winner), Phil Gaimon, Mike Woods, and a bunch of other top climbers. At this point, I was starting to get excited with how I was doing. I was there; this is how I dreamed of it all coming together. I was ready for my move, then I saw 4k to go, and realized how much pain I was in. I slowly started to fade off the back, with zero dreams of another acceleration, and swore my legs were going to explode. In the end, I held on for 16th place, a result I take a lot of pride in. Next year I really hope for better.

After San Dimas, some of us headed to Thousand Oaks California, to train at our teammate Peters, Uncle’s House. We were there for about a week before Redlands, so we each had time to get back into the swing of training and race preparation. After talking with my coach, the plan was for me to go out for 2 major days and get in big climbs. I was a bit nervous about my fitness on the larger climbs, because I had never ridden them before; in my area the largest climb is only 13 minutes, whereas in Thousand Oaks I was able to hit 35-minute climbs. After my 4.5 hour 9300 foot climbing day, I was confident and excited for the Summit finish at Redlands.

The Crit

Jamie Smith Photo

Last year, the crit was terribly painful. I just remember sitting 120th wheel and seeing the leaders taking the turns 400 meters up the road. I knew I was in better fitness, but I wasn’t overly excited about the race. It’s a fun course with a great crowd, but such a big field makes positioning difficult at times. Thankfully, my teammates Matt and Clay took care of me all day. With around 6 laps to go, Matt somehow brought me to the front of the race.

I was sitting in the back pretty much all day, so I didn’t even know there was a break up the road. Coming into 2 turns before the 5th lap, Optum crashed one another, taking out the front right side. A moment of hesitation, then chaos shortly ensued. All the sudden I was sitting top 5, and lining it out with Smart Stop and Jelly Belly. On the final lap, I saw riders up ahead (who I thought we were lapping). Going into 2 turns to go, a lead out guy overshot a turn, and I got held up behind him; thankfully I punched it and shot through the inside. As it turned out, that group ahead was actually a breakaway, with 2 of them holding on to the finish. All said and done I was 13th on the day, my highest placing yet.

Sunset Loop

Sunset loop is such an interesting race. It goes up a beautiful residential drive with amazing scenery, and then bombs you down at incredible speeds (55 mph to be exact), only to start the loop again. During the race, you see absolutely none of this however, unless you think cross-eyed version of the guy’s wheel ahead of you is beautiful. Last year I only made it through 9 laps, and swore I would never experience more pain in my life.

The day consisted of two laps on the crit course, 12 laps up at sunset, then a descent to the crit course for 5 more laps; a little over 95 miles in total. If you make it to the crit course, you’re having a good day. The attrition rate of this race is usually 70-80% not finishing, so going into the race, I really wanted to finish.

From the beginning, Optum took control of the race, and kept the pace steady but honest. A break went up the road, but the peloton was always confident it would be coming back. Last year I had a compact crank, and could barely keep up on the descents, thankfully I finally became a big boy and have since upgraded. At least I thought I did. Going into the first loop, I hear cracking behind me. Someone bent my rear derailleur in, and it being a circuit race, there’s no caravan to fix it. With a little bit of teamwork (Matt Green, screaming at me every time I was about to put my derailleur into my spokes) we dialed in how I needed to shift. Assessing the damage, I didn’t have my 28 or my 11. Great, I thought, Sunset Loop on a compact again.

Going into two laps to go, our whole team who started the day was still there; super exciting, as a lot of other teams couldn’t say the same. I was especially stoked our young guy, Dan was still there, a huge ride for 19 year old new to American racing. With one to go the pace really started to pick up, and gaps started to open. Around 40 of the 180 starters made it over the top in tact. I could only see my teammate Max, but in typical Clay Murfet fashion, he dived bombed his way to us on the descent. There were 3 of us heading into the town of Redlands.

Heading into the crit course, I made a pathetic attempt to get off the front. I made it around 50 feet, and was quickly swallowed. Note to self, don’t try and do that again. On the crit course, a few breaks tried to go, but were always brought back. I was all out, and doing everything to hold the wheel ahead of me. Coming across 22nd, which moved me to 21st overall, just missing a top 20 GC.

Redlands was a good step for me professionally, but not quite where I want to be. I hope to continue to gain valuable experience and make my way farther up in GC. Our team had a great time getting to know one another’s strengths and weaknesses, and we are super excited for Joe Martin this Thursday. It starts with an uphill time trial, and is the biggest deciding factor of GC placing for the week. Fingers crossed.

Thursday, March 26, 2015


Management decided to hold our 2015 team camp down in Davenport Florida to coincide with the Tampa NCC crit. It would be one of the few times where the whole crit squad would be in the same place as the stage race squad. On Wednesday before my flight out, Andrew our director sent a text that the race had been cancelled due to a sponsorship backing issue. 
Disappointed, changes could not be made as flights were booked and the team house rented. While not the best place to train, we were going to make the best of it. On Thursday, they were calling for snow in PA so my girlfriend Jamie dropped me off at my buddy Brandon’s house the night before, who lives right near BWI
We woke up and I saw my flight was on time. Making the trek to the airport it started to snow, but nothing compared to what BWI had seen this winter. So I checked in and got on the plane. We rolled out for de-icing, then an announcement came over the intercom. Apparently there was a gauge issue and we had to make our way back to the gate. From there we were promised we would be leaving in 15 minutes, every 15 minutes until, eventually; we were at the gate for 3 hours.  Finally we made it into the de-icing line, waited for a while, then took off 4 hours late. If you want to see mad, you should listen to the older gentlemen who were missing tee time.  

Upon arriving, my team director Andrew picked me up and we headed to find some food. We hopped off an exit, and luckily found the shadiest gas station subway in the entire country. We ate the food and made our way to the team house. At this point I was pretty nervous because I was about to meet 14 different people.  

Florida Sunshine- Checking out the new bike

Sunrise starting our ride
Rolling in I knew we made it to the right place. Shirtless dudes with tan lines working on their bikes. I quickly hopped in and started to dial in my new Litespeed training bike, which was already pretty dialed thanks to our awesome mechanic Matt Kelley.  After that, I walked in the door and found a box that said, Barry, Jake? It had all my new team Pactimo team gear, Bolle glasses, Limar helmet, Soigneur chamois cream, and Northwave shoes. I was so stoked because I ordered the right size; an XS Jersey is baggy on my arms so I must have done something right over the winter. As for the Barry or Jake issue, Clay started me calling me Stifler in his Aussie accent, and sadly; It’s sticking. 
The 2015 team roster is a super exciting team with a wide variety of talents. 
Brecht Dhaene- The Belgian tall man. Who has crushed races in Europe, and will make huge waves in the US this year. (Won an NCC Crit last year) 
Cortlan Brown- Hails from Utah, and spent two years in the Phillipines helping the poor as a missionary. Upon returning he put his dedication and talents to racing bikes, and won collegiate road race championships. 
Jake Silverberg- Smoothest talking 18 year old I’ve ever met. Looks like Rinaldo and is from Miami.  As a little side note, he won crit nats as a junior
Dan Gardner- Single,18, fast, first year pro, and has one amazing English accent ladies. You can find him on Tinder. 
Matt Green- Captain of the team, left England at 17 and has been traveling the world as a pro ever since. 
Clay Murfet- The Aussie who recruited me. Been racing professionally since he was a wee lad, and will be starring in the new film “50 shades of Clay”. 
Stephen Hyde- He’s the friend of Jeremy Powers, our team’s fill in rider, and also happens to be one of the best cyclocross racers in the country who just signed with cannondale/cyclocross for the upcoming cx season. 
Max Jenkins- Super talented bike racer whose proven himself multiple times throughout his career as a GC rider in big races all throughout the country and world.
Ryan Aitchenson- Apparently he has the best laugh in the peloton eh? Canadian, nice guy, and won the first race for the team this year. 
Adam Myerson- I think he’s done a bike race once or twice. Or more like more years than I’ve been alive. Adam is writing his last chapter with us this year, and will pass on his knowledge as the crit captain. 
Justin Williams- Baller, stylin’, and the u23 crit national champion. Also happens to be one of the fastest sprinters in the good ol USA. 
Hogan Sills- Civil Engineer who graduated from Purdue, now racing bikes for the crit squad. Also was bit by a snake the first day of camp and gave zero effs. 
Brandon Feehery- Collegiate national criterium champion. The team calls him Monk. Nice guy with a fast sprint. 
Peter Olejniczak- You have to say Ole, point to your knee and say Knee, then make a ✔️ to say his last name. Also won an NCC crit last year. 
Getting to know everyone was actually the easiest part. The team got along really well, and we had a great time telling jokes or stories.  We did introductions, sponsor meetings, and even got to race locally on Sunday.

50 shades of Clay
For the local race, the plan was to cover attacks and put as many Astellas riders in moves. Being active was a huge goal of ours, and we didn’t fall short. I covered moves all day and bridged to two breaks, the second was Clay, Cortlan, and myself. We held for a bit but eventually were caught by the chasing group. Being flat, setting a break was difficult at the high speed.  After our break was caught, Brecht and Matt countered with 2 others. Which turned out to be the break of the day.
With around 30 mins of racing left, I followed some wheels into the chase group of 12 with Clay, Adam, and Brandon. We didn’t want to catch the break, but I had to stay on the front, rotating through so those guys could sit on, just in case they did catch. With around a lap to go I finally cracked, and hoped for the best.
Surprisingly the group of 12 caught the break right after I pulled off, due to the fact Brecht and Matt were taking turns trying to drop their break mates. However the one was too strong and would follow every wheel with ease, so they didn’t want to take him to the line. Even though their break was caught, the rider still won the sprint finish, while our rider Brandon Feehery took second. I’m not mentioning the winner’s name because he just returned from a 2 year doping suspension and doesn’t really need any acknowledgement in my opinion. Not excusing a loss, rather I don’t have a ton of respect for the sort.

Sunset Ave Group Ride
Monday we dialed our bikes in more and went for a recovery spin, while Jamie Smith shot pictures of the team. We rode for 2 hours while practicing our pace line behind the team car. On Wednesday we went long, with around 6 of us doing right under 100 miles in 4 hours. The last 30 minutes was close to all out, rotating through.  Going that fast with 5 other teammates with a team car following, and an action cam in your face was definitely a new experience. After the ride, we took a nap and packed up our training bikes to head home. Currently our racing bikes are in the team sprinter headed out to California.
So that brings us to now, I’m on a plane to Cali. We will be racing San Dimas from Friday to Sunday. Friday is an uphill time trial, so I’m excited to get a chance to test out my strengths. It’s been a really big winter of training for me, putting in double what I did last year. (I’m still relatively new, so that’s not terribly hard). Regardless, uphill time trials can be hard to execute, but I look forward to the familiar pain.  There’s no part of cycling that reminds me more of running than 10-20 minutes of flat out uphill climbing.
So remember ladies, if you’re 17-21 and into English guys. Dan Gardner is your guy. And if you see him on tinder. Swipe right.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Astellas Pro Cycling at Tour of America's Dairyland

From June 19 through June 29, Astellas Cycling Team had a team of six riders racing their Litespeed bikes in the 11 stages of the Tour of America's Dairyland (TOAD). This was an exciting tour to follow, as Astellas rider Justin Williams was able to score to stage wins, and there were many top-10 finishes for all of the Astellas riders. By the end of the TOAD, Brandon Feehery was sitting in 3rd overall and Justin Williams in 8th. Not a bad showing! 

Stage 1: Shorewood Criterium Cycling Classic

The first stage of TOAD, Justin Williams took 5th in the field.

Stage 2: East Troy Cycling Classic

On the second stage of TOAD, Brandon Feehery took 4th and Stephen Hyde took 6th in the field.

Stage 3: Giro d'Grafton

Brandon Feehery took 7th in the field and Max Korus took 12th in the third stage.

Stage 4: Waukesha Carl Zach Cycling Classic

Brandon Feehery was able to hit 7th in the field two days in row, this time in the fifth stage.

Stage 5: Beloit Bike Classic

The fifth stage was Justin Williams first win of TOAD, complemented by Brandon Feehery's 8th place finish.

Stage 6: Schlitz Park Criterium

The sixth stage of TOAD saw Brandon Feehery in 12th and Hogan Sills in 25th in the field.

Stage 7: Elkhart Road Race at Road America

Clay Murfet managed to place 24th in the field on the 7th stage of TOAD.

Stage 8: Oshkosh Criterium de Titan

There was no stopping Justin Williams as he sprinted to yet another stage victory. 

Stage 9: Fond Du Lac Commonwealth Classic

Justin Williams kept his momentum, taking 2nd on this next stage, with Brandon Feehery right behind in 3rd.

Stage 10: ISCorp Downer Classic

After the past two days, could Astellas keep their streak alive? Simply put, yes! Brandon Feehery took 5th in the field, while Justin Williams (who placed 18th for the day) was able to take home a $5500 field prime. Clay Murfet took 24th in the field.

Stage 11: East Tosa Gran Prix

On the final day of TOAD, Brandon Feehery was able to go top-10 one more time, placing 8th in the field. Hogan Sills also took 13th in the field.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Litespeed T1 Di2 Build

We've been waiting a long time to finally make this happen, and here it is! Our top-of-the-line titanium road frame, the T1, now fully Di2 compatible! To celebrate, we built this baby up with full Dura-Ace Di2 components and Reynolds 58 Aero carbon clinchers. Light and stiff frame, crisp and clean shifting, along with nimble and aero wheels make this bike a true work of art.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Litespeed SS Cruiser

Every once in a while, we get the itch to make something new and different, like this Ti Single-Speed cruiser. Just something a little out of the ordinary. 

Clean lines, muted tones, nothing extra or unnecessary.

A special head tube badge for a special bike.

Welds don't get much better than that.

Tri Be La.

Proudly made in the USA.

FSA Vero track crankset.

Horizontal dropouts to adjust chain tension, but still with the option to run a rear derailleur.

Yes, it's made of Ti.

The little details are what brings the bike together.

It may not be a Brooks leather saddle, but it matches.