Nic Hamilton: Giving it all at Redlands

Christiaan Kriek won the green points jersey at Redlands.

Christiaan Kriek won the green points jersey at Redlands. Photo by Brian Hodes

Nic Hamilton describes the team’s successes at the Redlands Bicycle Classic.

During my time as a cyclist there have been very, very few constants. The Redlands Bicycle Classic is one of just a handful of races that I have been able to measure year to year. It’s one of those events that provokes those “my, how much has happened in a year?’ self-dialogues.

First, our host house puppies had grown into full-fledged dogs. But more importantly, Jelly Belly p/b Kenda had developed into a more experienced machine, ready to show ourselves on the road.

Day Uno: TT at Big Bear

A new Time Trial at Redlands created a lot of intrigue in the peloton. What would be the effect of this new course, held at a pretty decent altitude, just shy of 7000 feet? The newest member of the team, Serghei Tvetcov, wasn’t phased and had a solid rip placing eighth. Times were much tighter than with the previous uphill TT, so the GC battle was very much up for grabs and the Twitterverse was blowing up with projections of a war-like, street fight on Day 2.

Beaumont:

One of the many fantastic things about our generous hosts in Redlands is that they have more freshly laid eggs than an entire cycling team can eat. Trust me, we tried. Then it was off to Beaumont. The race was energetic. Christiaan Kriek, the South African import, took the Green Jersey from a breakaway effort and the team really came together to accomplish our objectives, not always done the easy way, but we got ’em done. Brad Huff was sixth on the day thanks to a good dig from Alex Hagman to get him where he needed to be for the bunch kick, just a few seconds behind the leaders.

Criterium:

With a later race time we had a causal morning, but the routine was no different. Cyclists are creatures of habit. We threw a leg over the Focus Cayo EVO bikes in the morning to shake some of the “junk” out of our legs from the previous day’s 200km adventure and set off for some course recon and coffee shop time. Reconnecting with old friends is bound to happen at bike races as many of us only ever see each other at the races. We took the morning to drink coffee and catch up.

The evening event went by without too much drama. We realized we have a bit of work to do collaborating throughout the race to stay organized and on point. We eventually figured it out and Brad did a good sprint to finish second. Chris earned enough points to keep his jersey, and with that we had two boys walking the steps to the podium.

Brad Huff finished second in Stage 3. Photo by Brian Hodes

Brad Huff finished second in Stage 3. Photo by Brian Hodes

Sunset, oh how poetic:

The final day was the sunset loop road race, touted as one of the most challenging courses in the U.S. Like any course, it’s how you race it that makes it challenging or not, but with that said there is no hiding on sunset.  First order of business was locking up the points jersey in the opening criterium laps. Kriek did a great job muscling his way to win both bonus sprints and effectively lock up the jersey.

I have to take a quick few words here to express my thanks to the Redlands community. Turns out we aren’t the only team with hosts going way above and beyond for the teams. I was blown away by the Community as a whole supporting this event. There were people congregated enjoying the sun everywhere on the course. It both elevated and smashed our morale as we struggled up climbs past BBQ cook-outs and ice cold coolers of choice beverages. But in the end it was definitely a net positive on the morale – thanks for the “Jelly Belly” cheers.

From the race perspective we were well-represented and took some chances going on into the breaks and giving ‘er a go on ALL parts of the course. We finished with three guys in the final kick and another trip to the podium where Kriek could rest easy and take that points jersey home with him.

Jelly Belly p/b Kenda riders relax after a well-fought race. Photo by Brian Hodes

Jelly Belly p/b Kenda riders relax after a well-fought race. Photo by Brian Hodes

We are off to Sea Otter, then Joe Martin and Tour of the Gila, which are all new races for this author. Don’t be shy – come say hi!

Thanks for reading,
Nic Hamilton

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