McNeill Wins Bicycle Blues and BBQ Mens 4 Criterium, Limpach 4th

Clear Lake, IA

Dillon McNeill sprinting to the line at Clear Lake's Bicycle Blues and BBQ weekend.

Dillon McNeill sprinting to the line at Clear Lake's Bicycle Blues and BBQ weekend.

Harvest Racing's Dillon McNeill and Cole Limpach had successful campaigns at Clear Lake's Bicycle, Blues and BBQ weekend, with McNeill winning the Men's Cat 4 criterium and Limpach taking 4th place.

With McNeill sitting in, Limpach practically controlled the pace after winning a prime on the second lap. From there, Limpach patrolled the front and launched several aggressive attacks of his own, two of which caused pivotal moments during the race: his breakaway with 10 to go split the field and created the winning selection, and his surge with three to go strung out the field, preventing a late breakaway from getting away.

McNeill benefitted from Limpach's efforts up front. As is often the case in cat 4 races, the field chased down every break, and in the process, burned several matches to bring it back together.

At the beginning of the bell lap, a fresh McNeill took over and grabbed second wheel at corner #1. "I saw a rider from another team put in a big effort, and I just hoped that he would have enough power to get us around the course without being swarmed. It worked out perfectly, as he pulled us through the lap, and I was able to jump him on the last corner where I began my sprint."

McNeill's sprint was well-timed. Taking the inside line around the leader, McNeill jumped out of his saddle and spun up his cadence to out-sprint the field by a wheel. In all, it was a text book win. "I felt pretty good throughout the race. My plan was to just sit in and wait for the final lap, then try to take it from there."

Congratulations Dillon, and kudos to Cole for his part in not only softening the field, but remaining with the pack to finish strong (4th) and also in the money.

On the weekend omnium, McNeill was 4th and Limpach 6th. Great racing guys!

Reynolds Wins ToAD Omnium, Preps for Nationals

After several podiums over five days of racing, including winning the Shorewood Classic Criterium, Harvest Racing's Tyler Reynolds won the Jrs 15-16 Omnium at the Tour of America Dairylands (ToAD).

The Tour of America's Dairyland has five criterium races for junior development. Several prominent national devo teams race ToAD as a final tune-up race for Nationals, including Hincapie, Hot Tubes, and LUX to name a few. After Tyler's results, Harvest Racing Development certainly has a claim to be included in this conversation. At any rate, Tyler quite possibly stole the Jrs 15-16 Omnium podium right out from underneath the favorites as he peaked in the final three days with a win at Shorewood Classic, and two other podiums.

Tyler's Individual Day Race Results:

  • 15th, Schlitz Park Criterium
  • 7th, Race the Harbor Criterium
  • 1st, Shorewood Criterium Cycling Classic
  • 3rd, Cafe Central Bay View Classic
  • 2nd, ISCorp Downer Classic 

After Shorewood Classic win, we caught up with Tyler and his father Steve Reynolds, to ask them what they thought of ToAD. 

HarvestRacing:
What did you think of the competition at ToAD?

Tyler Reynolds:
It's great. One of the things I like most about ToAD is how aggressive the racing is. Some of the fastest racers in the country are here, and many of the juniors are cat 1-2. The attacks in the race were just vicious, and I heard that our pace was comparable to what the Pros were doing, in some laps maybe even faster. I also liked the European style of racing, with tight quarters and lots of incidental contact that resulted from fighting for position. It was fun. I found it motivating.

HarvestRacing:
Your motivation must be on the rise after the Shorewood Classic win. How did that play out?

Tyler Reynolds:
It came down to a large field sprint. I waited until the final five laps to attempt to move up through the field, which was probably a mistake. I spent a lot of energy working my way up to the front, and didn't have as much time to recover for the bell lap. On that last lap, I had fight a lot to maintain position. It was going well until the second to last corner. There was an uphill false flat, and then I got stuck behind a Hincapie rider who was going backward through the field after doing a lot of work up front. It was kinda demoralizing after all the effort and fighting for position. Anyway, I made the best of it, and took the final corner inside and jumped hard, hammering it down the long start/finish straightaway. It was a long chute to the finish, with over the three blocks to the line. But I stayed on the gas and passed the main group that I was in, and was closing in on the group that barely broke away before I ran out of asphalt. I crossed the line, lungs gasping for air, and couldn't believe that I just sprinted that far. After the race, I heard that I was seventh overall among the 15-18s, but I wasn't sure where I stacked up among the 15-16s. Someone said I should go to the podium because they asked for my name. When they called up the first two Hot Tubes riders, I felt that they must have made a mistake about me, as I figured I was probably fourth. But then they called my name for the top step. It was one of those unexpected happy moments. I was just so psyched for the win.

HarvestRacing:
That win put Tyler in the running for the overall omnium. Steve, as Tyler's father, what was it like to watch the racing from the sideline?

Steve Reynolds:
It was a lot of fun. The races were large with 70-80 guys in the field each day,  and some of the teams brought up to ten juniors to the race. Harvest Devo is a small team, but Tyler and teammate Cole Limpach discussed strategy and tactics every night. They had a plan. Because the pace was so fast, and big primes ($250), the early laps of the races were at a blistering pace. The boys quickly realized that if they were to have any success, it meant getting into the elite group of 20 or so that broke away in the first few laps of each race, and then try to hang on as the teams launched several attacks. The boys raced well. It was great watching their progress as the week went on. Each of them adapted and got stronger. Just racing here was excellent experience. Not only Tyler, but Cole had a good week too. On the first of the final two days, Cole made it into the elite group, finishing 7th on the first day. On the final day, Cole just missed being there when he clipped a pedal on a turn, got sideways, and made a remarkable recovery to avoid crashing. This separated him from the elite group, but he certainly improved this week. I was just happy to see that the boys both had clean weeks, that nothing happened to them and their bikes. Having some success along the way wasn't so bad, either. 

HarvestRacing:
What's next?

Steve Reynolds:
We got home at 3AM Sunday, slept some, and then unpacked the van. Today we're getting things turned around for the trip to Louisville for Nationals later this week. That involves putting in a day at the office, getting things washed, and re-packed, and tracking down a 52 tooth chain ring and junior cassette for Tyler's time trial bike before Friday's TT. If you've got these parts, send it our way!

HarvestRacing: 
We'll dig through our parts boneyard for the parts. In the meantime, congratulations to Tyler for a great week of racing at ToAD, safe travels and good luck racing at Nationals!

Ross Is Tulsa Tough Winning Men's 1-2 Omnium

Posted by Brady Murphy

Last year, I experienced a type of racing that I had never had before -- very large fields (120+) and huge crowds at Tulsa Tough gave me a taste of what it must feel like to be a pro. This year, I got all of that and more as my Harvest Racing teammate, Jordan Ross, won the Men's cat 1-2 overall omnium. I am so happy for Jordan, and for our team, for performing so well at a big race. 

I've since heard about how many of our friends were watching, some even shouting, at the livestream's feed of the Cry Baby hill race as Harvest protected Jordan's omnium lead, answering attacks, and launching several of our own. Whether it was on the internet feed, or while experiencing it on the bike from the inside out, in a word, it was exhilarating.

Ross set the stage on Friday night's short and tight Blue Dome criterium by patiently waiting to move up through the field of 123 riders. He attacked with two to go; it was a bold move, and a bit risky from that far out. But Ross was willing to gamble losing it all in order to have a chance at the podium. The race announcer nearly swallowed his microphone as Ross opened up a huge gap. A wave of excitement rippled through the peloton, desperately trying to bring him back. Kent Meyers (Cadence Cyclery) was the only one to catch him, and just before the finish on the final straight away. Still, sitting on the second step of the omnium at the end of the first day was a great way to start the weekend.

Saturday's Brady Theater District race featured another downtown course with narrow streets producing tighter turns, and a small climb that caused enough disruption to the field to string the field out. With about 10 laps remaining, Ross went on the offensive again, getting into a seven man break that stayed away to the finish. Ultimately, Jacob White (Arapahoe) won on a solo breakaway, while Ross sprinted to fourth in the first chase. By the end of the second day, Ross was on the top spot on the omnium leader board.

The team was flying high after Saturday's race. After some complimentary cold beverages, carb loading, at the DNA/Arapahoe team tent, the Harvest five headed back to our host housing on our bikes. Along the way, we stopped for another round of refreshments and shenanigans at a former mid-century modern bank that had been converted into an eclectic bar. After that stop, I'm not going to mention names, but the Harvest guy who looks like he walked off the pages of a Tolkien novel was pleading for a stop at yet another fun looking bar on our route home. It wasn't meant to be. Jordan "Poppa GC" Ross put the kabosh on that one. 

Sunday's Cry Baby Hill Men's 1-2 race had 132 entrants -- the largest field to date for Tulsa Tough. This race featured a punchy two-step "Cry Baby" hill with a 90 degree turn half way up. It also has a tricky hairpin turn following a steep descent on the backside before the start/finish chute. Anyway, Cry Baby hill is lined with some of the most energetic cycling fans in America, literally thousands of them. Because of crashes among crowd and cyclists in past years here, a legion of volunteer "referees" self-patrol the crowd, clearing the way each of the 25 times that the peloton passes through. It's an experience to behold, especially while on the rivet. 

Harvest was actively covering attacks throughout the race, but when it came down to the final laps, Harvest's Lucas Marshall certainly held a key to Ross's omnimum victory. Answering an attack with three to go by Andy Chasteen (DNA racing), Marshall latched on as the peloton attempted to chase them down. With two to go, Chasteen faded as Marshall countered on Cry Baby hill. Marshall didn't relent for the entire next lap, stringing out the field to prevent a swarm at the finish. On the final lap, Ross launched a blistering attack of his own up Cry Baby hill, opening up a 100m gap on the field. Evan Bybee (Arapahoe Resources) countered at Climax point, catching Ross at the top of the final descent while the field was single-file. Ultimately, Bybee won the race, but Ross' fourth place secured him the overall omnium win for the weekend.

Congratulations Jordan, you are Tulsa Tough.

Winning is not a requirement to having fun at bicycle races, but it certainly amplifies the experience. I am grateful to have been a part of this, and will carry the memories when five friends got together to race bikes, have some success and a lot of fun in the process. Thank you Tulsa, and to our sponsors: Harvest Racing, the Trek Bicycles Stores of Omaha - Kansas City - St Louis, Trek, Bontrager, SRAM, Skratch Labs and Capo for supporting us in our efforts.

Jordan Ross attacking the field at Cry Baby Hill to secure the top step of the Omnium. Photo: Biff Stephens

Jordan Ross attacking the field at Cry Baby Hill to secure the top step of the Omnium. Photo: Biff Stephens

Lucas Marshall stringing out the field on the bell lap as Jordan Ross sits third wheel. Photo: Biff Stephens

Lucas Marshall stringing out the field on the bell lap as Jordan Ross sits third wheel. Photo: Biff Stephens

Brady Murphy is a cat 2 cyclist and member of the Harvest Racing squad. He lives in Omaha, NE with his wife Katherine and their dog, EmmyLou. Follow his adventures as @brady.murphy on instagram, or at his Wholesome Steel-cut Goodness blog

Juniors Limpach, McNeill and Reynolds Podium Memorial Day Weekend

Harvest Racing was well represented in this past Memorial day weekend's races. With multiple podiums by junior racers, as well as strong performances by the senior squad, there was lots of high-fives to go around.

Cole Limpach: 2nd, Quad Cities, M4

In the Quad Cities Men's category 4 race, junior Cole Limpach made it to the selection of 15 with seven laps to go. One rider was up the road after a prime lap. With three to go, the young Limpach went on the attack, successfully bridging up to the leader. The two stayed away for a lap before a pack of four joined them. The group of remained together until the final lap, when things started getting spicy. On the second to last corner, one of the leaders took it too hot and washed out another rider with him. Being caught behind the crash, Cole had to put in a hard effort to make up the distance. He railed the fourth corner and carried enough momentum to close the gap to the top two riders. With a final dig, he was able to get around one before the line, securing second place by a half a bike.

Afterwards, we caught up with Cole and asked him what he thought of the last of the weekend's races. "Actually, I like Melon City better because everyone has a chance there, it was fast, and that speed bump at the bottom of the hill was fun. But the Quad cities race was really hard. Although the Quad cities hill was short, it was steep enough to make it really hurt on each lap." 

While it may not have been as fun for the young Limpach at Quad cities, evidently being capable of taking lots of punishment while handling his bike when things got spicy separated himself from the pack and put him on the podium. Congratulations Cole, you've earned it.

Dillon McNeill: 1st (DQ*), Snake Alley M4;  2nd, Melon City M4

In the Snake Alley Juniors 15-18 race featuring a large field of 60+ riders, Dillon was in the chasers pack as a breakaway of four was up the road, and another in between. On the final lap, Dillon attacked his chase group half way up snake alley. The gap he opened was too much to overcome, allowing Dillon to be first over the line among the chasers (9th overall).

In the Men's Cat 4 race later that afternoon, Dillon used that same tactic to attack the field on the final climb up the snake. As in the juniors race, Dillon's attacked opened a big gap, which he was able to maintain for an impressive victory and post-up across the line. *However, in his post-race excitement, the young McNeil failed to appear for the junior's gear roll-out, and was consequently disqualified. A tough break, considering he had just won the race.

Dillon not only handled the Snake Alley setback with poise, but he bounced back on Sunday's Melon City Men's cat 4 race by winning a $20 prime lap and grabbing another podium finish (2nd). Needless to say, Dillon did not miss the roll-out at Melon City. We always knew he was a quick learner, and his aggressive racing style is something we're becoming more and more accustomed to seeing. Way to go, Dillon.

Tyler Reynolds: 3rd, Quad Cities Jrs 15-16

Tyler Reynolds also had a strong program in the Memorial day races with a podium (3rd) in the Quad Cities Criterium M15-18 and 10th in M3s, and a pair of 8th place finishes at Melon City's M15-18 and M3 races. Tyler was equally impressed by the quality of the juniors racing over Memorial Day weekend, where several strong cat 2 and 3 juniors were in the field. On a shorter race, there is little opportunity to recover from mistakes or being in the wrong spot at the wrong time.  As usual, Tyler was in the right place at the right time to secure a podium spot and several top ten finishes in deep, strong fields. Nice racing, Tyler. 

Other results:

Snake Alley Pro/1-2
Lucas Marshall (11th)
Brady Murphy (20th) 

Snake Alley M40+
Kent McNeill (6th)

Snake Alley M50+
Greg Shimonek (2nd)

Melon City Pro/1-2
Jordan Ross (12th)

Melon City Masters 40+: 
Kent McNeill (5th)
Greg Shimonek (9th)

Melon City Masters 50+
Greg Shimonek (5th)

Cole Limpach on the attack at Melon City

Cole Limpach on the attack at Melon City

Cole Limpach in the Breakaway at Quad Cities

Cole Limpach in the Breakaway at Quad Cities

Dillon McNeill spinning his way up the Cobbles of Snake Alley

Dillon McNeill spinning his way up the Cobbles of Snake Alley

Dillon McNeill on the Men's Cat 4 podium (2nd) at Quad City Criterium

Dillon McNeill on the Men's Cat 4 podium (2nd) at Quad City Criterium

Tyler Reynolds showing good sprinting form at the Quad Cities Criterium

Tyler Reynolds showing good sprinting form at the Quad Cities Criterium

Tyler Reynolds on the podium of Jrs 15-16 Quad Cities Criterium

Tyler Reynolds on the podium of Jrs 15-16 Quad Cities Criterium

 

 

Reynolds Podiums at Joe Martin, Cat 3 Upgrade Approved

Harvest Devo's Tyler Reynolds, second from left, on the Joe Martin Omnium Podium (3rd place)

Harvest Devo's Tyler Reynolds, second from left, on the Joe Martin Omnium Podium (3rd place)

Last weekend, Harvest Racing Development Rider Tyler Reynolds took third place in the cat 4 Omnium at the Joe Martin Stage Race in Fayetteville, Arkansas. He accomplished this by finishing third in the time trial, winning the road race, and taking seventh at the criterium.

Time Trial: 3rd of 92 starters
The young Reynolds began prepping for the time trial the day before the race by studying the course from the car. "Actually, I was kinda car sick when we arrived, and I just wanted to get out and ride my bike, so I don't remember much from the car," Reynolds admitted later. Fortunately, he never succumbed to nausea. But when he did pre-ride the course, he took note of the short downhill segment before the 2.5 mile climb kicked up to nearly 7% gradient. He also made mental notes of landmarks along the way that would help him judge his effort and distance remaining. Off the bike, he discussed his TT strategy with friend and cat 3 cyclist Trey Hedgecock (North Star Devo). The two of them concluded that the key to this uphill time trial was in carrying momentum. “Finding the right gear, sticking with it, and keeping a smooth cadence was important," he recalled them agreeing on. Meanwhile, Reynolds also received some big-brotherly advice from Olathe-Trek Subaru’s Garrick Valverde (cat 1), who advised him to "conserve energy at the start of the race while adrenaline was spiking, and save it for when the pain would comes later, about half way up the hill." Valverde’s advice turned out to be spot-on: Reynolds was able to push through the pain at the half way point as predicted, while maintaining his cadence as he climbed. In the final quarter mile, he shifted into the big ring and caught two riders ahead before crossing the line. Reynolds understands the value of preparing for time trials. "Last year, the Midwest Flyover Series gave me a lot of practice doing TTs. The LaCrosse TT was a lot like this one as it climbed the side of a bluff” he said. The preparation paid off: Reynolds had secured in third place in the general classification (GC) after the time trial.

Road Race: 1st of 51
After 40 miles of flats, rolling hills, and a few steep and technical descents -- “the kind we don’t get in Iowa” Reynolds remarked -- the road race came down to a field sprint. Reynolds was sitting fourth with less than 1K to go when an attack reshuffled the field, bouncing him back to 11th place going into the final turn. With 300 meters to go, he saw an opening up the road, spun up his crank and quickly passed several riders. After that effort he was sitting third. That's when he spotted that the leader came unclipped from his pedal and was drifting back. Reynolds dug deep again, and as the line approached, he closed the gap to the new leader. Both riders crossed the line at the same moment. Several minutes passed as the officials reviewed the photo finish. Ultimately, a winner could not be declared, so they had them do a 1000m sprint-off to decide it, mano-a-mano style. As he was being held in TT starting position, Reynolds decided that he would jump hard from the whistle with the hopes of opening up a gap. From there, he’d reassess, conserve for the final sprint if possible, or keep on the gas to the finish if required. It turned out that his initial jump proved to be the winning move as he was able to maintain the gap until he crossed the line first. In doing so, Reynolds also picked up 10 seconds of bonus time for the win. At the end of day, Reynolds had locked in third place in the GC with one stage remaining.

Criterium: 7 of 51
Sitting third in the GC, Reynold's goals were to race well and protect his podium spot. In the early going, he had no difficult staying with the group and covering attacks. After the two planned primes were done, he decided to make a move when one of the stronger riders rode off the front of the field. As he bridged, an unplanned bonus prime was announced to the field. The two pressed on after the prime lap and managed to stay away for a few laps before they were reeled back in. “I was super tired after that effort, so I needed to rest and just stay with the group to recover,” he said afterwards. Ultimately, like the day before, it came down to a field sprint. Half way through the final lap, a GP Velotek rider attacked and opened up a lead. The field responded with power surges as riders fought for position. On the final climb, Reynolds was squeezed toward the barriers. It was risky to press on, so he held back and finished seventh, a spot Reynolds knew would preserve his third place in the omnium standings.

In all, the Joe Martin stage race was a successful endeavor for the young Reynolds. Winning a road race on this stage, and taking third in the omnium is a good way to cap off one's cat 4 road racing experience. In fact, we have just learned that upon returning home, Tyler's submitted category 3 upgrade has been approved.

Congratulations at Joe Martin, and to your cat 3 upgrade, Tyler Reynolds. You've earned it!

Tyler Reynolds: A Father's Perspective

Harvest Racing Development team member Tyler Reynolds recently won the Cat 4 Tour De Husker criterium. After the race, we got together with Tyler's father, Steve, to discuss Tyler's development as a junior. Steve is also a competitive cat 4 cyclist, and is currently able to offer support to Tyler during the race itself.

It’s fun seeing a Father/Son duo racing together. How is that working out?
I had raced years ago, then took some time off to run the family business. Then as Tyler started developing, I figured I'd better get back involved before he passed me by. So, we started racing together during last year’s cyclocross season. It didn't take him long before he was leaving me behind -- last year's Cincy 3 cyclocross race was the first time Tyler officially beat me in a race. More recently, we did the Froze Toes race in Missouri. We were looking forward to working together during the road season, with my goal to help him progress where I could, or stay out of the way when necessary. Anyway, Tyler made a gutsy call in the race to attack during a 40mph cross wind. A break formed. While I felt strong enough to bridge across, I wasn’t going to pull the peloton up to my son. He ended up 11th of 45-50 starters. 

How much racing do you plan to do together?
We are committed to a full road and cyclocross season, racing nearly every weekend. We like to mix it up with local races and a few big ones each year including Road and Cross Nationals. For example, in addition to some regional Midwest Flyover races last year, we also did the Tour of America's Dairyland, and Tulsa Tough. This year, we are committed to the Joe Martin Memorial. Next year, Tyler is planning on racing the Valley of the Suns in Arizona, and the Tour of the Southern Highlands Stage race in Georgia.

Is anyone else in the Reynolds family involved with bicycle racing?
My wife, Deisha, has been an active Iowa USAC official for several years now. She's one of Tyler's biggest fans, and when she's not officiating, she's cheering and snapping photos of Tyler. Our daughter, however, is more interested in soccer. As you can imagine, we often have to tag-team to keep up with our childrens' activities.

Was this your first Tour De Husker?
Yes. We enjoyed it. The Branched Oak Road course’s 48 miles of rolling hills on closed circuit loop was ideal, though we didn’t necessarily like how cold the gusty winds made it feel. Still, it made for good tactical racing conditions, which Tyler enjoys about road racing. Anyway, half way into the race, Tyler attacked the field in a particular windy section of road across the dam. The attack succeeded when a few others latched on. I would have liked to have been there with him, but I was out of position to jump when he did. Tyler hung in there despite the group of three yelling at him to do more work. He contributed what he could, and fended off repeated attacks. The group of four held together, and then with just over a mile to go, there was some jostling for position as they rounded a corner. Tyler went off road and then had to fight his way back on to the group as they approached the finish line. As a result, he came in on the rivet and didn’t have the best sprint. He was a little disappointed but in good spirits overall and enjoyed the competition. 

We had better results on Sunday's criterium at Pioneer's Park. Going into the final climb of the criterium, I positioned myself well to make it difficult for the competition to have the best line when Tyler spun it up for sprint to the line. It was textbook teamwork. Tyler crossed the line with a couple bike lengths lead.

Tyler’s won several races before, but has he ever won a cat 4 race?
This was his first outright cat 4 victory. 

What drives Tyler in cycling?
Tyler is passionate about cycling. He always has been. You could see it in his eyes when posting up across the finish line of a kid’s race. He was all-in. While he likes cyclocross, Tyler loves the tactics of road racing. That, and going fast. He’s hungry to go faster, and is doing what he can to increase speed. To pay for road bike upgrades, Tyler has taken a job selling and building bikes out of boxes from a local bike store. He has an eye for carbon, and values the effort it takes to acquire it.

What are some of Tyler's Palmares?
10-12: 2nd, 2014 Road Nationals (Road)
13-14: 3rd, 2015 Road Nationals (Criterium)
13-14 7th, 2015 Road Race Nationals (Road)

How did you get involved with Harvest Racing?
We got to know about Harvest racing through Kent McNeill, owner of the Trek Stores of Omaha. But even before that, Tyler was already competing against Kent's son, Dillon McNeill, and his teammate Cole Limpach, both of whom we racing for Omaha Devo. Tyler got to know those two pretty well, as they pushed each other to excel during competitions. In fact, they made pacts among each other that they’d help establish breaks, then once away, they’d duel it out among themselves. Their competition styles complemented each other, and the three started becoming friends. Later, at Cyclocross Nationals, Kent told me about his vision for developing youth cycling in the Midwest region, and had us consider looking into Harvest Racing Development team. Harvest seemed to be a good fit for Tyler. It makes sense geographically, we appreciate the racing support, and Tyler has friends to compete with. What more could we ask for? We are honored to be a part of this program. 

We think he's a good fit on the Harvest Development team as well. Keep an eye on this blog and our social media outlets (Facebook & Instagram) to track Tyler, Cole and Dillon's racing progress.

Tyler Reynolds at 2014 USAC Road Nationals

Tyler Reynolds at 2014 USAC Road Nationals

A very young Tyler Reynolds, posting up at a kids race in the Quad Cities

A very young Tyler Reynolds, posting up at a kids race in the Quad Cities

Camaraderie Wins Rapha Prestige

Rapha Prestige.jpeg

We were grateful to get the invite to the Rapha Prestige Midwest event last weekend. It was awesome just to be able to ride this great course, but it was even more fun that we put in the fastest time. Scroll down to see a gallery of images from the event by Lucas Marshall.

We have our good friend Tobie to thank for the invite, he was one of the course designers and local experts. In addition to the invite help, Tobie also gave us the inside line on what equipment choices would be ideal for the conditions -- cross bikes with wide tires were his recommendation.

Our team rolled into northwest Illinois on Friday for a short pre ride, and wow, holy heat and humidity. The course was wonderful though. The topography was very Wisconsin, rolling terrain with flowy roads that follow the contours beautifully. The gravel was nice and smooth -- fast in most places, but had some rough patches that kept you on your toes -- especially on the fast downhills.

At dinner, we compared notes and agreed that this was going to be a great course for us. The climbing wasn't as hard as what we have around Omaha and the gravel was less chunky. Plus, we realized that the high heat and humidity would give our team an advantage over teams visiting from the mountains or coasts.

Teams began to gather at the start line at 6:30a on race day. Rapha had their espresso trailer setup and were serving premo roast. The vibe around the start was great. Rapha did a great job of selecting teams, lots of charisma and strong legs. Bike choices varied significantly. There were some teams with full-on self-contained adventure-style gravel setups, others with aero road bikes and 25c tires -- the majority were in line with our choice of cross bikes with file tread 33c tires.

The format of the day was for 25 teams to start at 3 minute intervals starting at 7. Our team rolled out second to last, seeded near the top likely because we have a cyclocross world champ on our roster. We started with a solid plan -- we knew that the race wouldn't be won in the first two hours, but it could be lost in the first two hours. Teams that went out too hard were going to suffer big time late in the race. Little did we know that despite our conservative plans, we would make most of our gains in the first two hours.

We organized right away into a single pace line with a slow rotation, 3-4 minute pulls at the front at a moderate pace. If we started to go too hard then Ryan would ding his bell and everyone knew to take it down a notch. If you weren't pulling then you were hiding from the wind and recovering. We understood that we were racing the course and not the other teams, so stay focused on riding our own race.

We overtook the team that started in front of us right away. They had missed an early turn and lost 3 minutes. It was another 20 minutes before we passed the next team. That happened on the first fast gravel descent. Our team was flying through anything technical without even touching our brakes, we barreled past a team that was gingerly navigating the rough gravel on road bikes. We felt bad for them, but we were smiling because that was the first true indicator that we had made the right equipment choices.

In the first 35 miles we passed five or six more teams, wishing them well as we kept our controlled tempo. As we approached the first gas station for refueling, we rolled up on Tobie and the Axletree team grinding up a long climb. We were super stoked to see our good friend riding strong. 

As we crested the climb we were shocked to see that just ahead were the bulk of the rest of the teams -- they had all clustered together at the same pace during the first third of the ride. We got to the gas station first and did a quick refuel as a complete mob descended on the stop. The only team to do a faster stop than us was the Trek team riding some bitching new aero Madone and Emonda road bikes with 28c tires. We rolled out of town right after them and passed them within a few miles when we got to the first gravel section -- a wicked fast descent that seriously favored cross bikes.

We kept our tempo high and passed the remaining two teams ahead of us over the next 20 miles. Now we were setting fresh tracks for others to follow. We had smiles on our faces, and even though our legs were a little heavy, we kept our steady tempo and coordinated strategy rolling. The terrain kept getting better and better. The climbs were wonderful and the vistas from on top of the ridges were unbeatable.

At mile 75 fatigue was starting to catch up to us and we were getting a little worried that were blown through the refueling stop too fast. But then fate smiled on us, Dave Wilcox from Rapha had setup a small aid station at the bottom of a long gravel descent. He gave us cold water, a couple of Cokes, some potato chips and granola bars. He has no idea what a life saver he was. He breathed new life into our team.

After a few more punishing climbs, we dropped into the Mississippi River valley for a 12 mile stretch of relatively flat rollers into a headwind. We got into TTT formation, took our speed up to 20 and just hammered out the miles. Everything was flowing great...and then it wasn't.

We took a sharp left back up into the hills, the wind became a non-factor, the sun came out with a fury as we ground our way up some brutal gravel climbs. The energy was starting to fade and we had 30 some miles yet to ride. We had a rolling team consultation about where we were all at energy wise - Jordan and Lucas were the strongest so adapted to taking more pulls and ensuring that Mark and Ryan were hanging in at a good pace up the climbs. 

Five miles out from the final gas station we came across a wooden bridge that was closed. We had to hand our bikes across a gap and scurry over fencing in order to cross. It was nice to be off the bike, but it broke our momentum. We (Ryan) elected for a slightly longer break at the final gas station to get a little extra food and soak our heads with their hose before setting off for the last 20 miles of rolling paved roads.

We kept a great pace for the final stretch, despite Ryan going way into the pain cave. We rolled across the finish line and were greeted by applause by the small Rapha contingent. We got in so fast that we beat the whole finish setup -- no cold drinks for us but plenty of shade to chill in and share stories.

The hero of the day was our Skratch Labs Hyper Hydration mix. We powered through bottle-after-bottle of the stuff and that was the key to avoiding cramps and keeping power to the pedals. We learned at the post-ride party (great time by the way) that many of the top teams used the same fuel. Make note that you should too if you are ever doing a long ride or race in the heat.

What a great time. Rapha put on a great event and everyone who attended was friendly and fun. The after party was super chill and everyone had a story to tell. We are super grateful for the invite and really proud of what we were able to accomplish. It was a great bonding experience for the team and provided memories that will last a lifetime.

 

Technique Tuesday: Tops vs. Drops

One of the things I like about road and cross bikes are their drop handlebars. The mono-position flat bar of mountain bikes just doesn't do it for me. Drop bars give you so many more options. The question is then, where should your hands be and when?

As a junior, one of the first camps I attended at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, our coaches were adamant about keeping us out of the drops if the speeds were below 25mph. The theory being that when you're in the drops it closes off your chest limiting your ability to take full breaths and at those lower speeds the aero advantage of being in the drops doesn't outweigh the physical limit of being crunched up. Not to mention you have much more control of your brakes and shifters while on the hoods.

Which brings us to pack riding. If you're in the peloton and speeds are above 25mph should you then be in the drops? No. Like I noted above, you have much better control and can react faster to speed and direction changes if you're on the hoods. Not to mention the more upright position gives you a better view of what's going on around you and what's coming ahead up the road. The only times you should be in the drops is when your nose is in the wind at the front of the pack.

So in short, only ride in the drops when speeds are above 25mph and your nose is in the wind. The rest of the time you'll be much more comfortable and safer riding on the hoods.

Mark Savery

Brady Gets His Upgrade, The Team Rejoices

Can I take a moment to share how grateful I am for having the opportunity to race for The Harvest Racing team? (ed note: "yes")

Our team, as presented by the Midwest Cycling Community, came together this inaugural season through the efforts several people. Kent McNeill (Owner, Trek Bicycles Stores) and Ryan Atkinson (Owner and founder, Harvest Retail Marketing) are the two big poles of the tent as our title sponsors. Lucas Marshall (Harvest Retail Marketing) and Paul Webb (Harvest Retail Marketing) also did a tremendous amount of grunt work behind the scene to get the team rolling in the off season. Mark Savery (Trek Bicycle Stores) also used several connections to secure equipment from other sponsors Bontrager and SRAM, as well as acting as the team coach. I could list all of the efforts team members have made to get this team going, but let's just say that it took a lot from many to get us where we are. 

To be clear, the Harvest Racing team is the Midwest Cycling Community's elite team, where elite means being a cat 1/2 racer. Until recently, that has meant that I have been unable to contribute to several races that the team has entered, since I am cat 3 racer. Instead, I've been free-lancing the cat 3 and Masters events in an effort to attain enough points to upgrade to a cat 2 so I can join them. 

While working on my upgrade, the team has supported me in several ways, including clothing me in a professionally designed kit from Capo cycling apparel, hydrating me with Skratch Labs products, and putting me on the fastest wheels in the industry: Bontrager's Aeolus carbon tubulars. Most importantly, I had their confidence, even in cases when mine was questionable. In retrospect, this is the biggest factor for the successes I've enjoyed in the first half of the season. While it's nice to look and feel like a professional (which I am most certainly not), it's another thing entirely to have the confidence of one.

Harvest has been all of that and more for me. 

Now it's my turn to give back. With my cat 2 upgrade recently approved, I am happy to announce that I'll be pinning on a number as a fully qualified member of the team at this weekend's Tour of Lawrence cat 1/2 race. 

I am super excited to be a cat 2 racer, and even more so, to represent the Midwest Cycling Community and Harvest Racing as a fully qualified member of the team. 

Tour of Lawrence Harvest Racing squad:

  • Lucas Marshall (cat 1/2)
  • Brady Murphy (cat 1/2)
  • Greg Shimonek (cat 1/2)
  • Matt Tillinghast (cat 1/2)
  • Paul Webb (cat 1/2)

Thanks for following Harvest Racing and wish us luck this weekend.

Snake Alley Lessons and Gallery

I learned a few good lessons doing my first P/1/2 race at Snake Alley. The racing was good but short. Snake Alley is a race of attrition where, if you are not near the front, you fight like hell to get as close to the front as possible. However, you may learn that even in a field of 110+ riders, you better be in the top 25 if you don't wanna be pulled - and sometimes that isn't enough. After 2 Continental pros were disqualified, I was 21st. I got pulled with 4 laps to go. LESSON 1 - Fight like hell towards the end of the Snake Alley criterium. If there is any separation between you and the action up front, you'll get pulled. I thought I'd take a breath and then hammer the last 3-4 laps. Game over.

Melon City Criterium - LESSON 2 - Mind your surroundings while trying to be considerate to a fellow rider who dropped their chain. Give a rider space only if you are able not hit the crack in the asphalt that will shred your tubular. Game over.

Local Omaha junior rider Dillon [DMac] had his first Snake Alley/ Melon city criterium. Brady and I sure enjoyed having him along, showing him what ropes we could, and watching him have an excellent weekend in Eastern Iowa. With Dillon and Brady racing throughout the day, it allowed me a moment or two to dust off the camera and snap a very few amount of images.

Wildcat Den Visit

If you ever find yourself around the quad cities and care to venture off the beaten path, there's a swell little park you should visit, or pitch a tent. Wildcat Den State Park just a few miles up river from the Melon City Criterium course. It's small enough that you can easily see everything there is to see at the park in a day or maybe even a motivated afternoon. The mix of geology and geography makes it a pretty special place. In proper Spring 2015 fashion, it was was raining most of the Memorial Day weekend but we were able to catch a break and take a hike around the park. The rain contributed greatly to the lushness of the environment and the images. Rain and harsh weather usually make for some of the best photography conditions if you're willing to deal with the elements. My rock climbing background made my palms sweat looking at all the interesting exposed rock, but my brain knew better - most of it is not climbable (and illegal too).

The Top Step

After several recent second places finishes, I finally got to stand on the top step of the podium at this past weekend's Nebraska Omnium Weekend's cat 3 criterium in Ashland, Nebraska.

The race featured eight corners and an uphill finish. Pre-riding the course, I found that turns six and seven were very tight, requiring some technical skills to carry speed through them. I made a mental note of that, and decided that the race would likely be decided early-on by a breakaway as a result of these back-to-back turns.

I got the hole shot at the whistle, and led the peloton through corners one and two. The attacks started shortly after. I patrolled up front until three got a few seconds gap on the field. I jumped and got across. Two others joined me. Our group of six was too big to maintain any efficiency, and the fresh legs of the peloton wasted no time to bring us back together. On the next lap, I got away with John Heinlein III (Loon State). We rotated through smoothly, but after 3 laps, our lead was only held by seven seconds. Meanwhile, sixteen year old Joshua Rinderknecht (Rasmussen) was attempting to bridge up to us, but was stuck in no man's land for a lap until he was joined by Austin Stephens (Univ Colorado). With two chasers,  Heinlein and I sat up and welcomed their assistance to our group. There were ten laps remaining.

Rinderknecht was mostly gassed from his solo effort to come across earlier in the race, and quickly conceded that he wouldn't fight us for the podium. The kid had heart though, and contributed with a few pulls of his own.

With Rindernecht out of the mix, that meant that I would have my hands full with the other two, Heinlein and Stephens, and both were legitimate contenders.

Railing corner 7 with Stephens, Heinlein & Rinderknecht on my wheel (credit: John Petersen)

It came to the bell lap. Heinlein pulled us up the penultimate hill and through the start/finish as the bell rung. I was on his wheel, followed by Stephens, and Rinderknecht. After rounding turn #1, Heinlein made a tactical mistake when he reached for his water bottle. At that moment, I recalled reading Steve Tilford's blog a while back about how many times he's attacked when someone reached for a water bottle. Had I not read that post, it's hard to say whether I would have acted at that moment. Regardless, I punched it with nearly everything I had as soon as Heinlein’s water bottle left its cage. Stephens was quick to respond, and we ripped through two corners, clearly separating ourselves from Heinlein. When I eased up a bit, Stephens came through with a blistering counter of his own. Now I was in the red, and was forced to chase him down through corner five, and down two blocks and a tail cross-wind. He had a few seconds on me, but I managed to close it down just enough to make up the difference in technical corner six. Stephens then attacked again coming out of corner seven, which was a good idea because that turn usually resulted in some separation anyway. But the problem was that it also required maintaining a strong effort over two blocks of a false-flat with cross-head wind to contend with before climbing the final hill. Having won the time trial by eighteen seconds earlier that morning, Stephens still made it interesting. I knew that it was imperative that I got on his wheel as quickly as possible, so I put in an effort out of corner seven, and slipped in behind to recover a bit before the finish. Rounding corner eight, Stephens then charged up the hill, but his effort came up 50m short. With his power faltering, I jumped around him and soloed across the line for the victory.

After several recent second place finishes, this one felt great.

Personally, winning is not as much beating the competition, as much as it is getting it "right" for myself. It's simply a terrific feeling when everything comes together in one race. I wish everyone who has ever cared as much about something as seemingly trivial as amateur cycling could experience this feeling. For after the initial investment in equipment, the team kits, after all the hours spent toiling away on the rivet, studying and discussing racing tactics ad nauseam, and pinning on oh so many numbers that your jersey is in tatters.. it's just nice to have that single moment when it all comes together. At least once. It's exhilarating.

The moment it all came together (credit: John Petersen)

Thanks to the support of my spouse Katherine, my teammates, and to Harvest Racing and the Trek Bicycles Stores, who have put me on equipment, gear, and nutrition from our other sponsors Bontrager, SRAM, Capo and Skratch labs, to help make this moment possible. 

Crash-o Sore-ass Wrecks

Crash-o Sore-ass Wrecks: The Lead Up.

I wrecked myself on a training ride a few weeks ago. It was dumb and the outcome has sucked ...fiercely sucked. I will get to the specifics in a bit, but this injury has been part of a month that I never want to relive:

It began with what I’m am calling ‘Poopocalypse’ in which our beloved dog, Toby, had a serious case of the trots in every room of the house (no exaggeration). I’ll spare the details but it was a week-long ordeal.

Then my wife Meredith and I had our own ‘Poopocalypse’ during the following week, when I came down with a terrible case of the GI’s. I blame it on a tainted sandwich from work but Meredith thinks I got whatever it was that Toby had. I can’t stand to believe that but she does have a medical education. At any rate, I was quarantined to the basement for a week.

Things were looking up though. An exciting race slate was upon us: Snake Alley, Tour of KC, N.O.W. weekend, and Tulsa Tough. Then I was going to head up to Minneapolis for a rare, if not once in a lifetime, opportunity to compete in the North Star Grand Prix, followed by the Tour of Lawrence to round out a super fun month of racing.

Or so I thought…

Crash-o Sore-ass Wrecks: The Incident.

When I mention a certain exposed post on the trail up by the Mormon Bridge across from the pump station, I trust that the vast majority of cyclists in the Omaha area know exactly what I’m referring to. We all know of it.

Well, I hit that post.

In short, I misjudged how close an interval would get me to that post and got caught looking down hitting “lap” on my Garmin. I ran right over it and went ass-over-tea-kettle.

I envision it looking something like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJXU7EVXs2A

Despite taking it all on the head, the protection provided by my Bontrager Velocis brain bucket allowed me to get up and assess the situation. I picked up my bike and inspected the damage. It looked alright, just a flat and some scuffing on the shifters but as I popped the wheel off I noticed that the rim had a nice v-shaped cleft in it. I wasn’t going anywhere. I sat down, gathered myself and called Meredith.

I was definitely concussed so my attempt at describing the crash location to Meredith was feeble. Worse, my brain wasn’t allowing me to figure out how to drop a pin on my phone. Meredith made a good decision to call Harvest Racing teammate, and coach, Markus “Champ-champ”  Savery who has been through this kind of thing before (see below) and was apparently mid-pour into a bottle of wine (do note that only good friends disrupt wine drinking to help out another friend’s spouse who is in panic). When she picked up Mark, he got on the line. Before I got halfway through my description of where I wrecked, he stopped me saying “I know exactly where you’re at”. We got off the phone and I just sat there looking at the river, digesting it all.

No Marks were injured in the above incident.

No Marks were injured in the above incident.

During this time, I noticed some pressure building in my left glove. When I slipped it off, it was clear that a bone was out of place. After dropping Mark off we decided to swing by an Urgent Care to get an X-ray. But the wait was too long and this was already becoming an inconvenience. I wrapped it up and made plans to get an X-ray the next day.

X-rays revealed that I broke my thumb (which I was told was good news) and needed surgery (which I was told was bad news)--both seemed like bad news to me.

I was sure to speak with resident hand surgeon, former World Record Holder , and local cyclist, Kaitlin Neary, M.D. about my injury. She was incredibly helpful in preparing me for what to expect with this kind of injury.

Crash-o Sore-ass Wrecks: Thumbzilla.

Surgery was the following Tuesday. I came home looking and feeling like this:

Sean makes a good point about my Austin Powers chest hair. It’s uncanny. I’m so very proud of it.

Sean makes a good point about my Austin Powers chest hair. It’s uncanny. I’m so very proud of it.

Crash-o Sore-ass Wrecks: The Mend.

So I’m on the mend.

Much of sport is about resilience and cycling is no exception. I have come back from worse things and I will come back from this. I am just in the process of adjusting my expectations for this season which is very difficult because I had lofty expectations entering the year.

I feel really foolish about this whole situation and I think that’s an appropriate emotion. Meredith has been really understanding and I’m fortunate to have her around. On top of that, if you’ve never gotten a smile from a toothless 4 month-old, I suggest you try it--it’s the best medicine. My Harvest Racing teammates, including Ryan and Corey, have been super supportive and understanding through all of this. I’m so lucky to be part of this program with some of my closest friends and truly exceptional people.

Let the comeback begin.

 

 

Tour of Kansas City, and Other Life Lessons

We are proud to have an athlete and person like Brady Murphy on the team. A class-act both on and off the bike...an exceptional athlete and person, who truly completes the Harvest Racing team and its values. This article is a repost from Brady's blog that we just had to reshare.


My teammates joke with me that Harvest Racing has become my personal U45+ (uber 45) development team. In many ways, it has been, both in terms of my physical and character development.

I learned a lot about racing at this past weekend's Tour of Kansas City, but it wasn't all race tactics. What I learned most was how to conduct myself when presented with temptation to take what wasn't mine.

At least, that's the hope for next time.

As I mentioned in my race recap, I was not proud of how the weekend finished. My omnium win was only the result of taking advantage of a mistake that went unprotested. It was dirty, and I was wrought with personal disgust afterwards.

I'd like to say that my pre-motivation to take the win was due to the tempting lure of category upgrade points. But I'd be in denial to say that standing on the top step of the podium after several recent second place finishes wasn't also a strong factor. And of course, cold cash brings its own motivations.

But a motivator that I wasn't aware came to my attention the day after the race. It was from a story I heard on NPR, about how researchers have linked feelings of disgust to unethical behavior.

Research finds that people respond to feelings of disgust by trying to protect themselves from it — and this can quickly translate into self-interested behavior and cheating.

Hearing this after personally experiencing it resounded strongly within me. In short, the research suggest that because I felt disgust from feeling cheated out of a chance to win on Saturday, I acted in my own self interest by cheating on Sunday.

Wow! I wasn't aware of the connection to this behavior previously.

By the time I heard that, there was nothing I could have done to take back what happened on Sunday. That had all passed. But what I have done since was to contact the Tour of Kansas City race promoter to ask him to re-review the omnium results, and if for nothing else, to award the first place check's payment to JJ Shepherd. The promoter thanked me for pointing it out, and said he'd follow up with the primary official to see if the official results could be straightened out as well. As of this writing, I haven't heard back from either of them.

I am ashamed by my lack of sportsmanship this past Sunday. I offer my apologies to JJ Shepherd, the peloton, and to my teammates for accepting this fraudulent victory.

One of the things that I appreciate about cycling is the lessons I've learned along the way. As I mentioned above, the team has chided me about the U45+ development program I've been a part of. Ribbings aside, I do believe that I am a work in development. While my fitness and skills are being refined, I hope there's been a healthy dose of character development mixed in as well.

Thanks for reading. Happy Friday.

Jordan Ross Heads North Solo

Harvest Racing's Jordan Ross took the family up north last weekend to compete in the LaCrosse Omnium and sat down with Brady Murphy to share his thoughts on the experience.

What made you decide to make the drive to Wisconsin?

It was a last minute, a perfect storm - LaCrosse is home to my wife's sister and my in-law's were planning on being in town that weekend as well so it worked out as a family/race trip. I've had intentions of bringing my bike to take the wrapper off some new roads, but it's never worked out previously. Also, the Midwest Flyover added the LaCrosse Omnium as it's first stop this year and as the reigning champ, I felt compelled to be there. Finally, my cousin, Nate, from Chicago told me the weekend prior that he was going to be in LaCrosse for the races. I have a great time doing races with Nate plus, he had yet to meet Peter.

How did you prepare for this race? (training, travel + Meredith & PJ, sleep, nutrition, etc...)

I didn't do any specific training for this race. It came at the tail end of a rest week but that was merely coincidence.

True to form, I was up way too late Thursday getting packed and prepped. I was making Skratch Labs Portables, and getting the Trek Emonda prepped, SRAM drivetrain dialed in. I was doing things up until we left Friday. Meredith likes to play that game as well. Though she's generally more prepared than I, we typically have an assortment of loose items and small bags crammed in the car by the end of it all.

PJ travels better than most adults but we still made sure he had every accommodation he needed. If Meredith and I wouldn't keep each other in check, Peter would end up with a snowsuit, 100 diapers, a bathing apparatus, a month of clothes, and a big wheel for any trip regardless of trip duration or season.

What were the venue and course conditions like?

The TT was rumored to be the main attraction for this weekend. It travels up the famed Grandad Bluff with almost 700 feet of climbing over the 2.4 mile course. Unfortunately, I was only able to hear about the feats of strength put on display because I was not able to make it up for the late Friday afternoon race.

The crit was on the riverfront and consisted of a flat, 4-corner course. They were doing some construction on course so the the already fast, slightly downhill, straightway between turns three and four narrowed and had added cement barriers. Plus, exiting the final turn there was a substantial expansion joint with some cold patch in it. Combined, it made for a tricky final section to an otherwise wide open course. 

The road race was held outside of LaCrosse near Winona, Minnesota. The 13.5 mile loop was mostly flat but had a ripping fast downhill followed shortly by a 2-mile climb. It was gorgeous. One of the better road race courses around, for sure.

Without any Harvest Racing teammates making the trip, what was your tactical plan?

For the crit, my plan was to patrol the front of the race and stay in the top 10-15 wheels. The field was absolutely stacked and 75 riders deep. I knew many of the riders had been doing larger crits, even NCC races so the pace was sure to be fast. Generally in fast, flat, large crits it pays to be in the front.

For the road race, it was pretty simple: be patient, hide out, and try not to burn too much energy before the climb. With a climb that size, it generally becomes a race of attrition with everyone going full blown Hercules. 

How did you fare in the races? 

Fifteenth in the crit. Seventh in the road race.

In hindsight, what would you have done differently?

In the crit, my plan to let teams chase backfired I think the high pace and field size made getting organized a challenge. I could have raced from further back to try and catch onto some of the attacks. In the finale, I found myself caught behind the wrong group with a second group surging to my inside. I should have gotten out of there immediately as the pace dropped but I waited too long and by the time I got a lane I was getting chopped in the corner, lost my momentum, and had a pathetic sprint finish.

In the road race I wouldn't have done much differently other than perhaps following the late race attack. But prior to that, the teams were not letting anything get up the road. The sprint finish went about as planned aside from the fading riders clogging up the single lane sprint finish. I credit my lack of outlets more to the fact that there wasn't an open road sprint than to overly poor positioning since I was only 2 or 3 rows back. 

What's going on between the ears while racing? Especially without team support, what helped motivate you to keep applying pressure to the cranks?

My mindset was the same as it is when racing as a team, in that, I'm trying to be efficient and smart. Most of all I want to find a way to win, I wanted to come home with a win for Harvest Racing. To stay motivated, I think it's important to put pressure on yourself to win and to embrace that pressure. I didn't accomplish my goal this weekend but that just puts more fire in my belly for upcoming races.

Being a new father, how do you race this year as compared to previous?

I don't believe I race differently being a father. I am competitive. I want to do well in every race I enter and, in a way, make Peter proud. That said, Meredith and Peter are WAY more important than any bike race out there and I love spending time with them above all else. I'm resigned to the fact that I won't be able to race quite as much as I did in years prior due to family obligations and that's fine by me. However, when I'm there, expect me to be rubbing shoulders!

Give us a one quick take away from La Crosse.

Though I'm not content with this weekends outcomes I would do the race again.  The promoters did a great job and the field was top notch. Hopefully they change the time of the TT and maybe improve the crit course? 

Talking With Lucas Marshall After Omnium Win

Harvest Racing's Brady Murphy sat down and talked with last weekend's omnium champion Lucas Marshall about his performance, the team's effort and whispering to cows at the Chris Lillig Memorial/Old Capitol Criterium Omnium in Iowa City.

What was your perspective going into a wet and gritty road race?

I hate the mess of rain so I wasn't thrilled. I hate getting wet. I think being a lifeguard growing up got into my head somehow - I know that makes no sense but either way, I don't like the rain. My mindset wasn't super excited, but from a performance standpoint I wasn't worried. I've put in enough training time on my SRAM drive train to know it was going to perform no matter what. I ran low pressure in the Bontrager tubulars so I had better traction on the wet roads. The worst of the weather had passed before the race started so really other than road spray and wind it wasn't that bad. Thankfully.

After winning the road race, what was your Time Trial strategy?

The team had protected me really well during the road race as I kept focus on staying out of the wind. I felt pretty good for the TT even though we had only about an hour between the end of the road race and the start of the TT. I measured my effort in the TT - I'd say that I definitely could have gone harder. I don't consider myself very good at TTs so I just gave it a solid effort and didn't really attack it. I felt positive during the ride that I was moving along well and I had one reference point on the course for time and I knew I wasn't doing bad at that point so I kept on chugging. 

Mark Savery from the Trek Bicycle Store and I did some bike fit work the previous weekend. I'm so confident on my new Emonda SL that I keep wanting to make the position more aggressive so I can push the bike even further. I'd say that the new fit played a positive role in my TT performance. 

Winning the RR made me know that I needed to give a solid TT effort in order to contend for the GC. It paid off in the long run. I wasn't overly concerned or nervous.

Tell us how you earned the nickname the "bull-whisperer"?

The team was hosted at a rural farmhouse outside of Iowa City. The farm was a family affair, and the livestock they raised included cows, pigs, chickens, goats and horses. Anyway, they had this bull named "Norman" that came up to the fence where we were washing bikes. I took a break and approached him. As with any relationship, it's all about communication. A bull is no different. It may have also helped that he was bottle-raised by hand from a very young age. We clicked, and he liked gumming for the camera.

When did you know that you had the omnium won?

The last fifth of the race was a blur. Criterium racing is so intense that there's little time to think about things other than the moment itself. However, I tried focusing on not doing the wrong things in those final laps. So to answer your question, I never really thought about having the omnium "won" until the race was over. It was a nice surprise and a relief. 

What was a lasting memory of this year's Old Capitol Criterium?

This whole team racing thing is new to me. Mistakes are hard to ignore but the trip as a whole was great. I'm honored to have such a great group of guys to train, ride, and race with. Everything was memorable - the weather, the comforting accommodations, the hunt for a wireless internet password, the racing, and filling the crystal trophy with adult beverages and tipping it back in celebration.

Marshall Brings Home the Chris Lillig/Old Capitol Criterium Omnium Cup

Harvest Racing had a strong weekend at the Chris Lillig Memorial/Old Capitol Criterium Omnium in Iowa City. Thanks again to the Trek Bicycle Stores of Omaha for supplying luxury team transportation in the Sprinter van. The added time working on strategy together really paid off.

You've gotta see what our lodging was like for this weekend. The whole trip was a real adventure.

Chris Lillig Memorial Road Race

The team was greeted with cold temps, heavy rain and high winds for stage one. The heavy rains concluded shortly before the race, but winds were turbulent as the front pushed through. The rains stayed away throughout the remainder of the race, but there was considerable amounts of standing water and road spray to contend with as well. Mark Savery jumped into a break early in the first lap of four. The group of three stayed away for ten miles before Jordan Ross jumped across. The group of four continued to push on until the Mercy team, unrepresented in the break, went to the front to pull it back. With just under a lap to go Paul Webb joined a late move again forcing Mercy to take up the chase again. The break was eventually brought back and after a flurry of late attacks, Matt Tillinghast went to the front and set-up a perfect finish for the squad by keeping a high tempo at the front before turning it over to Savery for the final lead-out. Lucas Marshall won the sprint, and was followed home by Jordan Ross and Paul Webb for a Harvest podium sweep.

Chris Lillig Memorial Time Trial

One of the biggest surprises of the weekend was Savery's dominance in the time trial, taking top honors in the windy 13 mile effort. Savery's individual race was accomplished while spinning a diminutive 50 tooth chain ring, unorthodox compared to the typical low cadence/big chain rings (53t-55t) favored by most time trial specialists. "Back in the day, I was a GC contender because of my time trialling, but this effort even surprised me. I guess my stage race legs are coming back" Savery said afterwards. Marshall and Ross also had strong TTs, finishing second and fourth respectively. 

Old Capitol Criterium

The squad rode a near flawless race at the Old Capitol Criterium. After Matt Tillinghast and Greg Shimonek chased down several attacks early on, a late break of two managed to get away in the final laps of the race. In the end, the Harvest team won the field sprint with Ross, Savery, Marshall, and Webb going 3-4-5-7 in the race.

Overall, the team maintained Marshall's position in the omnium, bringing home the crystal winner's cup. Ross finished second overall, Savery (4th), Webb (6th) of the ten cash spots. 

Chris Lillig Memorial Cup Photo Essay

The Harvest Racing team took to the roads and streets of Eastern Iowa for the Chris Lillig Memorial Cup and 38th annual Old Capital Crit weekend. The Cup began with nasty Spring conditions which gave way to a near perfect sunny Sunday for the criterium in Iowa City. I managed to take some time out of racing to play photographer. Thanks to Brady for taking up the camera reigns at the end of the weekend to capture the Omnium win.
— The Lucas

Twin Bing Road Race 2015

Prepping the kit for a long day in the wind

Prepping the kit for a long day in the wind

The Harvest Racing team showed up in force for this past weekend's Twin Bing Classic road race just outside of Sioux City, Iowa. Billed as 7000+ feet of climbing over 80 miles of rolling Iowa farmland, this race had all the makings of a USAC Spring classic.

The team rolled out of Omaha early to survey the venue. The course was as hilly as promised, and a prevailing 25 mph wind would prove decisive during crosswind sections. 

Unfortunately, during race registration, the race promoter announced that the course was  to be shortened by one lap, stating high winds and a good chance of a looming thunderstorm as the reason. With that, the race became 52 miles instead of 80.

A hilly and windy race at any distance is a formidable challenge for any team. But with Harvest having six members in the field, the team was well-suited for a longer race's war of attrition. At any rate, we quickly modified our plans for a shorter, more intense race.

The peloton remained together during the initial rollers in the crosswinds and the ensuing headwind section. When the crosswinds returned, the attacks began. Brady Murphy answered the first, established by members of Queen City and KAOS cycling teams.

When the break was brought back at the base of a long climb near the end of the first lap, Jordan Ross and Paul Webb countered. Their effort resulted in splitting the field of 30, with Lucas Marshall and Mark Savery joining Ross and Murphy in the selection. Ross then rolled off the front, remaining away for the next five miles.

When he was brought back, Savery launched three consecutive attacks on short recoveries, forcing the rivals to chase each time. The break was split again on the penultimate climb to the finish, with Ross and Marshall secured in it. Murphy and Savery worked together to regroup with the break. From there, Savery made a fourth attack to string out the field, setting up Ross and Marshall for the final push to the top of Climbing Hill in a pack of six.

Ross jumped at the 100m point, throwing down a violent attack up the 12% grade, but his efforts fell short as sprinter Lee Bumgarner (Kaos) came around him before the line. Marshall rounded out the third spot on the podium seconds behind.

Though we liked our chances at a longer race, we are still proud to have Harvest Racing represent two of the top three spots of the podium.

Our next race is the Chris Lillig Memorial/Old Capitol Crit in Iowa City April 25-26.

Thanks for following Harvest Racing. Looking forward to our next report.