Sunday brought us the first of a three race series here in Deerfield, OH, the Eastern Ohio Time Trial series with Stark Bicycle Club. Team Mandalore loves TT and we had an excellent showing across several categories. Dave and Ryan participated in mens standard (where no aero equipment is allowed so give regular roadies a chance to play), Sherlyn entered womens aero and Rae resumed her regularly scheduled programming in co-ed fixed gear (where you can have some aero gear, but you can’t coast!)
EOTT is a 20k out and back. Volunteers from the Deerfield police department manage the 180 degree turn around at the half way point on a rolling course. There are no stop signs or lights, someone shoves you down a start ramp and you just pedal as hard as you possibly can.
Riders leave at one minute intervals and take anywhere between 30 and 40 minutes to complete the course. Maniacs can choose to enter in 2 cagtegories.
Mens Standard: Ryan’s standard division effort was 42:31 with an average speed of 23.24 miles per hour and placing 4 out of 12. Dave finished 9 out of 12, averaging 18.58 mph with a time of 40:41.
Womens Aero: Sherlyn returned to the bike after some time off and a great time of 40:17 and an average of 18.76 mph for a 3rd place finish. Fixed Gear: Rae had only one competitor this week, our friend Mike from Team Lake Effect. She was just about a minute behind him with a time of 41:34 and a speed of 18.19mph. She’d like to add that 2 people on the podium is better than one because everything is better with a buddy!
Team Open: Ryan donned his Cycward kit to race with our friend Joe, who bested him in their first race, snagging the third place spot. They finished 2 out of 4 with a time of 31:08 and a speed of 24.28… that’s pretty snazzy for working with tired legs!
Stark Bicycle Club & Summit Freewheelers had a lot of prize giveaways for everyone and the post race parking lot was a love fest, as is customary at this awesomely fun, long running local event. Check out EOTT 2 & 3 coming up in June and August: https://www.bikereg.com/eastern-ohio-time-trial
Team Mandalore’s RATL #4 lineup was Ryan (mens 4, masters) and Rae (womens 4)… The first hot day of the year brought smiles and dehydration to all. The team donated prizes to the juniors racers prime laps, which was probably the highlight of a day that went pretty rough for our crit racing friends. First, a few notes on juniors prizes, then a report from the Mandos.
The local juniors race usually splits into 2 distinct groups – the teenagers (fast!) and the under 12’s (doing their best!) so we opted to donate $10 in prizes and split it two ways. Both groups got stickers and patches from us and we included a $10 note for the older kids and a box of 50 Dunkin Donuts donut holes for the younger kids. Did you know you can get FIFTY DONUT HOLES FOR $9.79? Now you do. It’s true that one junior complained she would rather have $10 worth of hummus (Rae’s response: you need to put that request in before you are on the start line) and many of the kids stopped by the possum van to say “thanks!” Kids deserve good stuff- that’s a primary function of our team.
Next up, a recap from Ryan: So RaTL Week 4 was easily the best weather of the whole series, would that also mean the best racing? Well, yes and no! After three weeks of the same old entry-level racing, as far as what you can expect with regards to race tactics, etc., week 4 saw the first successful break away attempt in the Men’s 4/5 field… But I didn’t make it into the break away … On the contrary, My early efforts are probably what the break away “broke away” off of. See, my plan this race (after learning?? in the first three races) was to conserve my energy early on and not take any turns on the front until at least half-way through the race. Is that what happened? No, no it was not! I summarily led the race for the first three laps. Was I being aggressive and riding off the front thinking, “This might not work, but at least I’m making the race faster and trying to pose a threat”? Again, nope! I was simply riding at the front, doing all the work for the pack without getting any kind of advantage… So, when I tried to (finally) recover and drift back among the pack, the strongest racers attacked me and I was unable to respond, and was probably blocking anyone else who wanted to attack. SMH Well, I did recover in the remaining pack as we picked up a couple break away members who fell off and ended up nabbing 2nd in the group sprint of this group and 7th overall in the race.
The Masters race this week was a bit more tame. There were no break away attempts that got more than a few seconds before being closed down, but the quality of riding was a bit more sketchy. More people were being reckless (or at least less careful in the pack) I got into a few situations where I thought I was going to crash, none which actually caused me or anyone else to go down, but I did suffer two broken spokes as I was squeezed in between two other racers and my wheel went into another bikes frame as it was rolling along. I saved it and didn’t go down, but my front wheel was a casualty and I had to pull out of the race. On the good side, I have learned to adopt some smarter strategies for riding in a group like that, making myself bigger to let others know I’m there (using my elbows when needed) and trying to avoid those kind of situations in general. All-in-all, a good racing weekend although I would have liked to do better in each race. We’ll have to see what the series results have in store, but overall I’m pleased with my performance in this series. In the Men’s 4/5 field, never did I place in the bottom 50% of the field. In the Master’s field I have some work to do. Ok, that’s it RaTL recap done!
And from Rae: This week’s womens field was numerically improved with 7 racers in the 1/2/3 category and 7 in 3/4! It was awesome to line up with so many friends, old and new. I figured the group would split up pretty quickly, as the Velofemme ladies have been launching attacks no later than the 3rd lap, so I was prepared to fight for 4th or 5th place with the other “womenopausal” riders. My friends Kim & Mary Beth are just about my pace and I was stoked to have a good group of 3 to work with. We had some newcomers (3 ladies actually doing their first race ever!) and they all turned out to be real quick.
I had a long work week – I’m a manual labourer part time when I’m not teaching art- lifting rocks and digging holes is like doing weighted squats for 12 hours a day 3 times a week! My hammies were do sore Saturday morning, I considered skipping out all together, but then I remembered I made our friend Sara a promise to sign up for every single race just to increase the number of women participating. You can’t moan about the lack of women as much as I do then skip a race. Plus, with EOTT coming the next day, I was worried that if I didn’t race, I wasn’t going to ride at all, just putting off the inevitable shite performance by 24 hours.
I had some solid 18-20mph laps towing Mary and Kim before my little crew settled in to trading positions between 17.5 & 18 mph. With 3 laps to go, I got the world’s worst cramp in my right hammy. Like, did you ever get a cramp in your foot that just dropped you to the ground? It was like that, but in the back of my thigh. And twitching. I glanced over my shoulder to make sure there was no traffic behind me and dodged to the side of the road, trying not to crash from the pain. When I passed the timing table, Ana yelled to me, “Rae what’s wrong?” I yelled back “Hammy cramp. Really bad! I’ll ride it out.” So my third to last lap was a 15 mile per hour whimper fest- I chugged my Nuun (glad I left my bottle on, sometimes I take it off for racing) and by the time i got back to the finishing hill I was ready to sprint again. I finished alone, as strong as I could, for an eventual finish of 6 out of 7. But I finished my laps. And Kim waited for me at the finish line, a tradition I hope we will keep up at all the races we attend together.
The third installment of Races at the Lake brought some really beautiful weather. Ryan doubled up in Mens Cat4 and Masters 35+ while Rae made a return to Womens Cat4.
Primes this week were $20 Taco Bell gift cards & Ryan went for it, grabbing those snacks & taking 10 seconds off his usual lap time for this course! Unfortunately, that effort cost him in the subsequent laps and he ended up with an overall placement of 10th out of 21. We think he made the right choice, as at this local series, there’s no cash payout for Mens 4/5 and you can’t eat a top five placement medal!
After a short break, he lined back up with mens masters, finishing 5th but feeling pretty burned up. Back to back racing is hard, but 5th in mens masters does pay a small purse. Says Ryan, “hey! I got paid to race TWICE today!”
Mothers day weekend did not bode well for Womens attendance, with only 7 riders reporting to the line. RATL breaks the ladies field up into 2 groups: Categories 1/2/3 and Categories 4/5. The disparity in speed and skill at these smaller local races is pretty big… Our friends Liz & Laura, from Team Velofemme, launched an attack on lap 3 and quickly separated themselves from competitors Addy & Marie, who were left with more than a 3 second gap in a race for 3rd place. Bonnie, a cat4 who comes to visit us sometimes from Pittsburgh is *almost* as fast as the 1/2/3 group, but only for about 35 of the 45 minutes. She lapped Rae in the final lap, after Rae had already lapped the 3rd racer, Kim.
There’s so much debate in the community about how to get more women racing and we’ll just leave that for another time, but here’s hoping for a bigger turnout for the 4th and final race of this series, on May 14th, where Team Mandalore will be providing primes for the Juniors racers.
Races at the Lake week 2 saw a much-reduced field for the Men’s category 4/5 race. A smattering of other regional bike events including an MTB race and an early season gran-fondo kept the field size small. The first week saw 29 racers and this week saw only 19. The weather was cooler also as there was more cloud cover; at race start the temperature was only in the upper 40s.
My goal this week was to remain present toward the front of the field, but refrain from doing any real work at the front unless force to. I knew, from the previous week, that a small break away didn’t really have a chance at staying away, but any more than two people up the road could be threatening given the small field size. Remain toward the front, but sheltered and really step it up in the last two laps and bury myself in the last straight to go for the win; this was my plan.
We all know what happens with plans, right?
The pace of the field stayed quick through the beginning laps, but not too fast, no one was really pushing the pace very high and I found myself at or off the front routinely, as no one attempted a break-away until the 4th or 5th lap. I brought back a two man break with the help of the pack and then (inexplicably) I found myself off the front although I didn’t really try to get a gap or put myself there, I was just trying to maintain a quick pace and take my turn on the front… I guess I missed the “slow down” memo.
Well, that lasted almost an entire lap, I was brought back heading down the hill into the start/finish area, and what was worse, heading into a prime lap… So I was trying to recover on the prime lap and ended up not being competitive for that prize… Starting with the prime lap, there was one semi-successful attack by a solo rider and they were able to maintain a 15-20 second gap for two laps before they were brought back with 3 to go.
Just like I thought, the pace picked up at the start of the final lap as people were trying to position themselves for a field sprint finish. I was able to stay close to the front of the field, and heading into the final sprint, my legs were able to get me 7th place in the field sprint, an improvement on last week, but still off the podium.
About 2 months ago, Dave asked me to go to this race, the War Daddy 100, with him down in Kentucky. A 100k mountainbike race in April is unwinnable for someone living in northeast Ohio. Our trail system is completely closed until at least May due to feet of melting snow and rain. I said no- it’s too early, but he insisted he was going. I considered Dave’s sacrifices (twice) to be my truck support at The Crusher and decided I owed him one. I set a reasonable goal of 10 hours for the two of us to complete the course. We rode out mountain bikes as much as possible on the local gravel courses and just kind of hoped for the best.
What I expected at War Daddy: -Monster climbs. I’ve been all over the Daniel Boone National Forest. Ride – push- ride- repeat. -Chunks. Real Appalachian fire & mining roads. No problem. nothing can be as bad as Mosquito Gulch. -Creek crossings. A feature that used to be scary, but I’m getting the hang of. 10 hours to finish. Easy peasy- half a Crusher100. What could go wrong?
What I did not expect at War Daddy: -Variable surfaces. The route surfaces changes so fast I found it hard to get a rhythm. We’d go suddenly from soft dirt with boulders to fresh 3in deep 57 rock (my LEAST favourite kind of gravel). -Heat. The weather’s unpredictable everywhere around this time, but right up until our 9am start time, the high temperature was only supposed to be in the low 70s. We hit 82 degrees at 10:30am. My plan to skip the first 2 aid stations to save time wasn’t going to work, given that we were drinking so much water. -Unending Climbs. Seriously, I never saw so many false flats in my life. Do people in cars just put it neutral and hope for the best while they go down the other way? Do they put the false flats in there to slow down the descending dump trucks? Seriously, what the fuck?
What Trail Sick Warned Me About: -You will be riding in the middle of a creek bed for part of the course. It might be easier to walk it. -It’s a long 67 miles.
My favourite part: -Half mile creek bed jam!!! Easier to walk it?! That was the best part! And the warbaby trail after was primo – nice soft dirt with a little sand and pine duff (my speciality!) rollers and a few steep root climbs alongside the creek. I could have just circled back and done that all day. But alas…
The last thing I did not consider was how fas it gets dark in the mountains. For someone who used to part-time live in the Smokys, I should have known better. We hit the 11 hour mark at about mile 60. So, 7 to go on the mapped course. Problem was I had to take my sunglasses off. I stopped Dave and said, “dudebro, we really have to make a decision. It’s going to be dark, we’re in strange territory, we don’t have lights and we are NOT the blues brothers.” Trail Sick was hanging around at the last intersection looking for us. We took the ride at about mile 63.
I’m not disappointed, tho. As I age I’m getting faster and better but I’m also getting smarter. A metric century for the first outdoor mtb adventure of the year is enough of a feather for this girl’s cap! 10 years ago I might have chanced it. Hell, maybe even 3 years ago before my catastrophic crash. These days, I take victory where I can find it and roll over the the afterparty like I’m queen of the world!
War Daddy 100 is amazing. We’re going to get the Trail Sick Bros up here to ride with us and the McLain Farm Bros ASAP. Hanging out with them felt like we were with our dudes up here. I feel an epic MTB bromance coming on and I wanna be the shadchanit on that task! For real though, if you’re looking for a great group of hooligans to hang with and a hell of an adventure, this one’s for you!
Saturday saw the first event in the Races at the Lake series, p/b our friends at Summit Freewheelers. Regretfully, the Team Mandalore mens criterium division is suffering from a series of injuries and we only had one entry, but Ryan put up a mighty effort! This early series can be a struggle with the weather, but sunny & warm weather made spectating a delight!
Ryan’s main goal was to stay in the lead pack, which he did, finishing 11th out of 29 starters. In the 4th lap he narrowly missed the prime to our friend Matt!
In the continuing trend of the local women pushing their way into mens 4/5, some of our favourites, the Lady Gnar Shredders of Columbus, were in the pack as well as our old friend Steve, who once swore to Rae he’d “NEVER” race his bike. We’re looking forward to bike-path shaming Steve on to the team in the near future.
The continuing RATL schedule will be April 30, May 7th and May 14th. Expect to see Mandalores at all 3, but we’ll be doing a big push to have as many critidiots on May 7th, with several teammates doing 2 races. Thanks to Summit Freewheelers for continuing this 30+ year event and keeping our local cycling community strong.
Sunday saw a 5 rider contingent of Mandalores at Hillman State Park in PA. Hosted by the (infamously infamous) McLain brothers, the Hillman Hustle is a gravel circuit race, consisting of 2 or 4 8 mile gravel laps with about 1,000 feet of elevation per lap.
Team Mandalore is all about making our goals, even when they’re completely ludicrous, because when you have a goal you can CRUSH IT! And early season goals are what brought 5 mountain bikes to the gravel bike race.
Rae wanted to complete 2 laps in 2 hours and have her second lap be faster than the first. Last year, at Hillman’s shorter course, she did 4 laps with a time improvement on each pass through. Dave is working on gravel mileage and seat time in preparation for War Daddy in April. Molly will honestly do ANY race the McLain boys put on, but she wants to increase her participation in the 2022 racing season.
And our lovely foundlings? DON’T DIE Seriously, they were the only juniors registered, the weather was miserable, 40 degree rain and they’re stuck with Rae as their coach and that jerk shows up in booty shorts and blows them off the start line.
Quinn is building a reputation for doing a really hard race for her first outdoor event of the season (Road Apple Roubaix, we’re looking at you) and was heard muttering on the first hill, “it’s going to be really hard for me to convince myself to do a second lap.” But she did. and look at the smile on that face!
16 miles was actually young Fiona’s longest effort to date and with a finishing time of 3 hours, we noted on her strava report that while her average speed was 6.3 mp/h, her top speed was 27.9! With support from Dave, she also resisted the urge to quit and was rewarded by the rest of the team and the organizers at the finish line.
Molly rode with Quinn and after threatening to lynch Rae for saying this race is “fun and pretty easy and the weather’s going to be great,” eventually agreed that it was a really fun time. We even overheard her making more gravel grinder plans over a brewsky with some of the other racers.
Grueling travel, shitty gas station coffee, terrible conditions at impossible races… that’s what we’re all about! More adventures coming soon, but in the meantime, we can’t thank our sponsors enough. Especially this ride we want to shout out to ROKA because the sun eventually DID come out, and we were expertly prepared. Big love as well to KENDA, who provides the sticky rubber tread on our youth bikes.
Biggest thanks for this event goes to Annabel, for photographing the team and helping the organisers by volunteering at the race. She’s a superstar!!
Here in northeast Ohio, the RAR is our season opener. Under fondo rules (timed but no podiums) we gather in the quaint and tiny town of Garretsville to terrorize the local population with a day of gravel riding, hill climbing, beer drinking, arm wrestling and a boisterous welcoming of the spring.
This year, conditions were “partially optimal,” with dry roads, sunshine and warm temperatures. The last several weeks of snowfall and ice made the trail sections of the ride extremely sloppy and slick, but overall it was a great adventure day!
RAR offers 2 routes – 25 or 47. All 5 Mandalores involved opted for the longer ride, arriving on a mishmash of mountainbikes, roadbikes and fixed gears. Fun fact, Team Mandalore is the ONLY team in 8 years to field not one but 3 fixies to finish the grueling 2500 feet of elevation ON TRACK GEARING. Mountainbike riding Ryan finished 117th overall in an open field of 500. Fixies Jeff and Andy impressed the crowd with their climbing and passing without gears to the delight of riders and spectators alike.
The team gives rave reviews to the latest batch of Kenda tires. We have a discount code you can use if you want to get out there on the best rubber Ohio has to offer: KENDAPRO25
If you were at RAR with us, our friend James took some great pics throughout the ride & you can check them out here!
Huge thanks to our sponsor, 2 Bulls in a China Shop Podcast, for sending 3 of our junior ladies to Ray’s Indoor this past weekend to take skills classes in a supportive, women only environment. Ray’s is open seasonally in Cleveland, during the times we can’t ride the mtb trails. Once per year they offer a day for women only, with free admission and our friends at Ride Inspired put on coaching clinics. We made a video of some of our highlights, like seeing our friends, learning how to hop wheels off the floor, racing on the pump track and, of course, eating a ton of junk food!
Coach Rae was thrilled and impressed with the effort and attitude our lady foundlings put in. It was actually hard to drag them out at the end of the day!!!
Welcome to our fall fundraiser. A couple of times a year, Team Mandalore comes up with a crazy thing and we sell it to help raise money for things our foundlings need. Our junior members don’t pay for their kit and we do our best to cover their race fees and other necessities as needed. Last year, Q Superstar got a new SE road bike from the team to help further her road and time trial adventures. She signed a contract pledging to pay the bike off through volunteer work, reported to the Team Captains, at a cost of $10 an hour. On completion, she gets a bill of sale and the bike is hers forever.
We did running shirts and hats for 2021 so this time we’re doing hockey jerseys. Designed by Rae to resemble Boba Fett’s armor, the front features our logo and the logo of sponsor Youse Guys and That Podcast. Sleeves will have Kent Cycle and Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort logos in white. Please specify the name and number for the back of your jersey!
Orders will be placed with Owayo no later than November 12, 2021. Please note that these may not arrive in time for Christmas. Owayo is located in Germany. They’re super amazing and typically very fast but shipping delays are rampant all over the world right now. If you are not local to NE Ohio (in which case a Rando Mando will bring you your shirt) Team Mandalore will ship to you with no extra cost.