Rockstar Games / Signature Cycles Racing kicks off 2014 with a California training camp.

2014 brings on many exciting changes for the Rockstar Games / Signature Cycles Racing Team. 

The unforgiving East Coast weather, has sent many Tri-State riders West, for warmer climates and clear roads. For our first post of 2014 we check in with Lucia Deng, Captain of our NYC  Based Women’s Team, for a first hand look, at what riders are doing to get them selves in racing form for spring!

By February, I had lost track of how many hours I’d logged on the indoor trainer and which alphabetical snowstorm name we were up to – Pax, I think? Northeast winter race training is always a challenge, but you know it’s especially bad when you start having to cancel indoor team training sessions due to weather. The only possible remedy: warm weather training camp!

After some flight cancellations, courtesy of yet another winter storm, I finally arrived in Los Angeles for Part I of my West Coast adventure.  Staying in Marina del Rey, I was able to enjoy a few days of riding in the Malibu canyons with some fellow NYC racers.  Malibu offers some fantastic long, but gradual climbing not far from the coastline.  Rides typically start and end along the iconic Pacific Coast Highway or PCH, and wind their way up and over the Malibu ridges, netting you about 2000ft of elevation gain per pass.  One of my favorite things about riding in LA is the view of the ocean and the feel of the cool Pacific breeze, which propels me as I slowly pedal up the quiet canyon roads.

(above: 90 mile route including the Latigo Canyon and Yerba Buena climbs)

(above: 90 mile route including the Latigo Canyon and Yerba Buena climbs)

Popular routes not to be missed in the LA area: Latigo Canyon, Yerba Buena, Piuma, Topanga/Old Topanga, Mollholland Hwy, and for an easy recovery day, Mandeville Canyon.

(left: Cola stop atop Latigo Canyon Rd)

(left: Cola stop atop Latigo Canyon Rd)

My second favorite thing about LA is the food – the abundance of fresh and locally sourced options.  Oh, and the miles of beaches along Santa Monica and vibrant shops and restaurants on Abbot Kinney Blvd are certainly among the highlights as well.

This year, Part II of my trip was a self-supported Rockstar Games / Signature Cycles Racing Women’s Team camp. Our teammate, Shane, grew up in Ventura County, which offers acres of citrus and strawberry fields, miles of beaches, and many strategically located coffee and dessert shops.  Shane’s parents are huge bike racing fans and have hosted several professional squads over the years, such as Jelly Belly, Vanderkitten and TWENTY16 Pro Cycling.  Along with their usual roster of professional bike racers, Shane’s family graciously offered to host us for a week in their ranch.

(left: Bikes travel with us in the back of a truck to a local taco joint)

(left: Bikes travel with us in the back of a truck to a local taco joint)

Our rides in Ventura ranged from easy breezy out and backs along the coast between Ventura and Santa Barbara with cupcakes and coffee stops, to some seriously steep climbs, like Sulphur Mountain with dirt sections thrown in.

Of all the rides we did, one of our most satisfying was the ascent up Gibraltar.  This 6 mile climb averages at over 8% grade with several sections exceeding 10%.  As if that weren’t enough, because you are exposed to the sun for the entire climb, the endless switchbacks and gradient felt even more unrelenting.  At the top, however, we were rewarded with magnificent views of the continuous inland mountain ridges, and the sweeping canyons down to the coast.  Definitely worth the effort.  The rather rough pavement, narrow and windy road also made for good bike handling and hand strength practice during our descent!

(above: Top of Gibraltar)

(above: Top of Gibraltar)

(left: Taking in the fabulous views of Los Padres National Forest behind us)

(left: Taking in the fabulous views of Los Padres National Forest behind us)

And of course, no training camp is complete without good rest and relaxation.  Here’s one of the many gorgeous views in Ventura: watching the sunrise over the lemon and avocado trees at the ranch.

RSG Relax

Rejuvenated from our trip, we’re ready to attack our first races of the season, which are just around the corner!  And for all of our sakes, we’re hoping some of that mild California weather follows us back east.  Here’s to a fun and safe season of riding and racing in 2014!

Race Report: Harlem Skyscraper Classic, weekend of 6/16

We had a great weekend for racing with very favorable weather and a really nice turnout by our Rockstar Games / Signature Cycles team riders.

The Cat 4 team worked nicely with Stefan getting off the front on a couple occasions, as did Wilson, Mikael, and Peter. Aaron took an early prime, and while Mike N, Robert, and Laurent were all present at the front, we just couldn’t get past a late race crash to crack the top 10! Many of the races on Sunday saw their share of crashes, a couple of which either snagged one of our riders (like Stefan, late in the cat 4 race) or forced us out of the action (like major pile up on last corner which thankfully Mikael missed, but just barely).

Continue reading

Race Report: Weekend of May 19th and NY Gran Fondo

NJBA Team Challenge and Tour of Syracuse
Saturday, 5/12 was the NJBA Team Challenge in Trenton which is a points race with sprint points on every 4th lap. The format is for five-man teams but Scott Hodder was the only entry for our team in the 35+ race and finished an impressive 4th place. Sunday was the Tour of Syracuse, and once again Scott Hodder brought home a solid placing at 5th in the combined 35/45+ masters race.

JerseyMan Duathlon
Mikael H did his first Du of the year (2m/20m/4m format) and was once again foiled by 2 very fast 20 something year old brothers from NJ (who have beat him for something like the 10th time over a 3yr span). He was 5th after the first run and moved up to 2nd on the bike (catching one of the brothers), but being nearly twice their age, he can’t quite seem to run those sub-6 minute miles on the 2nd run! Mikael finished 3rd overall.

NY Gran Fondo
Lucia D’s experience at the Gran Fondo: Continue reading

Race Report: Weekend of May 12th

There were a lot of events in our area this past weekend … Team Rockstar Games / Signature Cycles had a solid presence at most of them!

Hunter Mountain Road Race
Jeffrey Lesser and Peter Nicolardi lined up for the Cat 5 race. The race consisted of two 39 mile laps with technical descending at speed over 50mph. A stiff tempo on the last big climb shattered what was left of the field. Two riders broke away on the last descent, leaving a group of three – including Jeffrey – to sprint for the remaining places. Jeffery came through in 4th, Peter in 15th.

Luci Olewinski took 3rd in the Women’s Cat 4 field at Hunter Mountain Road race this weekend.

Orchard Beach Criterium
Continue reading

Race Report: Weekend of April 28th

Race Reports from the Women’s Team, who was very busy this past weekend!

Quabbin Reservoir Road Race
We had 3 team members in the Women’s Open field at Quabbin this weekend, Emily, Lucia M and Susan. From all accounts, it sounded like a really intense and difficult race, both due to the terrain and the stacked field of very strong Cat 1/2 women. Lucia M’s quote: “Quabbin. It sounds like a place from Lord of The Rings…and it felt like that.” Our resident mountain goat, Susan came away with the best result at 22nd, being able to hang on to the front pack the longest. Emily and Lucia M both really dug deep, working their way back to the main field, forming chase groups and picking off dropped riders along the way. With Battenkill and now, Quabbin being Lucia M’s first and second road races ever, she is clearly well on her way to clenching the title for “The Most Difficult First Year Road Race Choices Possible.” A really long and hard fought race for all – good job ladies!

Continue reading

The Importance of Rest

by Mikael Hanson, Enhance Sports

With the early arrival of spring, I have some observations to share. First, this was the earliest I can remember being able to ride outside with shorts on. Second, I logged more bike miles this January and February than ever before. Lastly, all this extra time on the bike so early in the year does take takes it toll to a body just coming off a winter break!

In my twenties recovery came easy and rest days, well those were few and far between and in my opinion for the weak minded. I used to become overcome with guilt for skipping a training day, even when I was sick and lived by the mantra that somewhere someone is training and when you meet them in competition, they will beat you. They say, with age comes wisdom. Continue reading

Race Report: Weekend of April 7th

Augusta Training Series – Masters Race
• Keith Hala 1st
• Joe Straub 3rd
After a rather uneventful start of the race Joe Straub dumped some serious wattage onto the pavement to close down a breakaway that had formed in the last few laps. This set up Keith Hala for some easy sprinting to grab the win. Joe, after all that effort, still managed to hang on to 3rd.

Augusta Training Series – 1,2,3 Race
• Keith Hala 4th
• Joe Straub 7th
• Glenn Babikain 8th Continue reading

Race Report: Weekend of March 17th

This past weekend was a tad more quiet than last. The big news out of the Bethel Series was a horrible crash in the 3-4 race that ultimately ended in very tragic news, the death of Markus Bohler. Our hearts go out to him and those he leaves behind.

In the other races during the day, Cheryl Wolf took 8th as the only Rockstar Games rider in the women’s race which had about 40 starters. In the Master’s race, Rockstar had two racers in the top 10, with Joe Straub taking 5th, Brian Wolf in 7th. I did not get any results from the Cat 5 or Cat 4 races, but heard we had riders in both events.

Training Notes: Phase 1 – Base Training

by Mikael Hanson, Enhance Sports

With temperatures hitting the 50s and higher already in February, perhaps we are all thinking that winter has forgotten us this year as we begin to eye time in the saddle out on 9W. I have already been up to Piermont or beyond several times this year, and as much as I want to jump on that occasional train of riders flying past me at 28mph, I force myself to resist the urge, remembering that the calendar barely says February.

Sure, competing in the Sunday world championships a la the ‘Rocket Ride’ over in NJ seems like a great idea for these very non-winter like conditions, but there will be plenty of time to do that after you’ve spent some quality time in the saddle accumulating those all important BASE miles.

Continue reading

Gotham Girls Racing joins Team Rockstar Games / Signature Cycles

We are thrilled to welcome the Gotham Girls Racing Team to Team Rockstar Games / Signature Cycles for 2012. This will be the first time that Team Rockstar Games / Signature Cycles has fielded a full women’s squad. We are happy to see our team grow in 2012, but we are particularly pleased to be able to support such a strong women’s racing team. As a CRCA sub-team, the team will be a constant presence at races in and around New York City, as well as traveling to larger regional events. We will be sharing their racing exploits right here so stay tuned throughout the season!

Read on for the press release by the Gotham Girls, and check out their website.

January 9, 2012Gotham Girls Racing, an amateur all-women cycling team, has joined forces with Signature Cycles and Rockstar Games to form a new women’s racing team in 2012. The team, racing as Rockstar Games/Signature Cycles, as a sub-team of the Century Road Club Association (CRCA), will compete in local club races as well as some of the premier races in the Northeast, including the Harlem Skyscraper Criterium, Tour of the Battenkill, Killington Stage Race, Tour de Millersburg and the Green Mountain Stage Race.

Continue reading