Powerful Performances & Podium Placings In His Opening Criterium Races: 4-Questions With Fred Archambault
For cyclists new to racing, Category 5 (the entry-level classification where every rider starts their career) is almost entirely focused-on gaining racing experience and “learning the ropes”, so to speak.
But Fred Archambault is bucking that trend and finding success early in his racing career, having scored two podium places in his first three events!
What is the root of this success?
How is Fred doing it?
We’ll let him explain!
Following his two-podium performances (and a third just after this interview was penned), we caught up with Fred to talk about his racing successes and love for cycling in this weeks BWC Athlete Profile. Enjoy!
Despite a fast and technical course, Fred was confident and started his sprint early, earning him 2nd place at the Redlands Classic Category 5 Criterium. Photo Credit: Amy Archambault
Primary Sport/Discipline: Road Cycling/MTB Fun
Average Hours of Training Per Week: 10-12hrs
Upcoming Goals: Summer Criterium’s & Fall Gran Fondo’s
Question #1: Congratulations on earning 2nd place in only your second race ever, Fred! How did the finish play out and how did you get second?
Fred Archambault:Thank you, taking the second spot on the podium at the Redlands Classic Cat-5 criterium was an awesome outcome and I couldn’t be more stoked about it!
From my memory and looking at the GoPro footage from the race, I feel my podium finish was due to being disciplined, finding good wheels, taking corners in a smart manner, and saving my biggest efforts for the final three-laps of the race.
Out on course, I had to be disciplined to not get wrapped-up with the guys putting-in early attacks and hammering-away prematurely in order to preserve my energy. I had to be confident that these attacks would get quickly neutralized by others in the peloton.
Throughout the race I was always on the hunt for a good wheel to ride and working to stay in the top third of the group.
Coach Brian’s saying that the, “power is in the peloton” is tattooed in my brain and was key to achieving success in this race, and I’m sure future races.
Reading other rider’s body language is a huge factor in finding a great wheel.
I would ask myself, is this person in their drops and working? Are they keeping their head up and forward on the race ahead of us? Are they holding their line and leaving no gaps?
That was some of the quick checklist items going on in my mind as I was looking for the right wheels.
Taking the corners at race-pace has been my biggest challenge. Coach Brian and I have talked about making the most of every turn and how to approach them with the end result being the fastest speed with the least effort.
Coaches Perspective/Coach Brian: I am so proud of Fred, although I must admit, his success is not unexpected, as he has been working diligently on his fitness and technical skills for criterium racing.
What was most exciting for me was strategizing with Fred before the race and “debriefing” afterward to talk through what went well, what Fred was thinking/observing/feeing during the race, and then offering feedback to help him make improvements for his next outing.
As a bonus, Fred made the commitment and has invested the time to create GoPro video footage of his races.
So after each race we have gone over the video to dissect tactics, discuss strategy, and work through any items that can help Fred improve as rapidly as possible.
It’s wonderful that Fred takes the extra time to study race footage and prepare himself mentally, in addition to his weekly workout routine.
Its not hard to see that this habit is helping him improve rapidly!
A podium place in only his second race start is a great result! Photo Credit: Amy Archambault
Question #2: As a new racer, criterium racing can be intimidating, yet you are finding success straight-away. Can you offer some advice to Athletes that want to get into racing?
FA:I think the most important part is to experience it for yourself and not get discouraged by other people’s past experience or non-experience.
Being intimidated is allowing fear to dictate that you are not worthy of being in the moment.
But look at intimidation as a positive force forward, let that fear focus your effort 110%.
At the end of the day everyone lining up has the same fears, regardless of how cool they look or how expensive their bike may be.
The same skill-sets developed and used on your local group rides and Gran Fondos apply to crit racing.
Always be a “heads-up”rider. I feel like I cannot stress that enough!
I have seen so many pile-ups in Fondos where people are starring down at their bike computers and not concentrating on the road in front of them.
As Coach B says, the race is in front of you, not behind you or on the sides, keep that head-up and focused forward!
Protect your wheel and cover your bars. Develop the confidence to be calm riding very close to others and know its okay to have a little contact. It’s not a big deal, that notion alone will help you protect your space in the peloton.
Do your best to NEVER overlap wheels, chances are the rider in front of you has no clue you are in their blind spot.
Ride predictably and be the predictable rider in the peloton. No sudden lateral movements and no sudden grabbing of the brakes.
Try your best to flow with the lines of the race!
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, make it fun and have fun!
Be cool to the other riders and race volunteers. We are waking up at 4:00 in the morning to travel to these races and wear god-awful outfits to ride bikes fast…
If its not fun then perhaps there are other ways to fill our days.
To borrow from an old punk-rock ethos “P.M.A.” Positive Mental Attitude…always!
Coach Brian: I love it, what a thorough answer!
Fred covered so much here and his perspective is spot-on.
So much misinformation exists about the competitive side of the sport and that is best demystified by experiencing it for yourself.
Being a “student of the game”, continually learning and improving, not to mention seeking advice from the experienced riders you want emulate is a great way to overcome any fear associated with racing.
What’s more, there is nothing quite like the speed, dynamics, and thrill of a peloton of cyclists.
It’s something that has to be experienced to be fully appreciated!
Racing is a new endeavor for Fred and he is thankful to have the support of his wife Amy who rides with him at least once a week! Photo Credit: Fred Archambault
Question #3: What is one of your biggest cycling objectives this season and what events are you most excited about?
FA:My biggest cycling objective is to continue exploring the sport and culture of cycling.
Establishing this high-level of fitness so late in my life, I have found cycling to be an undiscovered world and am really enjoying everything that is unfolding with each mile!
To be more specific, my goal is to work through my Cat 5 races safely and enter the next phase of bike racing.
As I get into Cat 4 I am really excited to be able to race with teammates and hope it will bring another dynamic to my cycling experience.
I should say, there are so many events that I am excited for this season!
We have the Chuck Pontius Criterium in June, it’s my hometown race, plus there is our local Gran Fondo in the Fall, among other events that I am excited about.
Also, I plan on making a trip to visit family in North Carolina and want to race while I am there.
But most importantly, I am very excited about my cyclo-vacation with my wife, Amy.
We plan on riding bikes for a week in Austria, starting in Vienna and riding along the river to Salzburg.
I can only hope we get lost along the way and enjoy the awesome countryside!
It will be great to not have a heart rate monitor, no power-meters, no wahoo...
Although, I might need a map, so I’ll bring that!
Coach Brian: I like to tell my Athletes that there is a big beautiful world of cycling out there and it is one of my biggest joys to help them make the most of it and navigate it successfully.
For Fred, I am so excited that he is enjoying the full spectrum of cycling events.
Together we have worked to prepare for endurance MTB events, criterium races, and Gran Fondos.
Among all of this we still make sure to prioritize “Sunday-Funday” rides with his lovely wife, Amy. We also work to squeeze in bouts of strength-training as it is not ‘all about the bike’ for Fred.
I am very excited to see where this season takes Fred and continue to “debrief” with him along the way so he can improve, not just physically, but tactically.
I say this because it is equally important to emphasize “how” we ride our bicycles as how powerfully we ride them!
After his Redlands Classic success, Fred visited the podium the very next week at the Victorville criterium. Photo Credit: Amy Archambault
Question #4: What is/are your favorite workout(s) in your training program? Also, please share a ‘knowledge-bomb’ you have learned while training with BWC.
FA: My favorite days are Mondays...it’s a great day to hit ‘reset’ and focus on the week ahead.
Usually on those days I have a gym workout followed by a recovery spin. For some reason it just feels like the best way to reflect on the past weeks training and set new goals for the upcoming week.
For most of us, coming out of the weekend we are toast from either racing or putting in long efforts, so its great to keep the momentum going but not burn yourself out with a specific workout.
In many ways the biggest gains and insight to training since working with BWC has been understanding the “less is more” strategy.
We know that recovery days, yoga, and stretching are super-beneficial to our growth as cyclists. And I file those under “less is more” actions.
But it also applies to how we approach race strategy.
The more energy we can conserve in a race scenario by putting out less of our own and taking advantage of wind, course conditions and the draft of our competitors, the more we will have in the tank for the efforts that count the most!
And of course my favorite one-liner knowledge bomb: ”The power is in the peloton”!
Coach Brian: Cycling culture has long embraced recovery as a means to gain maximum training adaptation, but something that I find of ‘extra’ value for our Athletes is blending Active Recovery in the physical sense, with an emotional component through meditation and/or yoga.
As Athletes we are high-output, driven folks, so just as our bodies need recovery and reset, so do our minds.
By incorporating this into weekly training, it keeps us fresh and focused on the goals that inspire and challenge us!
As the saying goes, “fatigue makes cowards of us all”.
To me, that wisdom can be applied to the grind of day-after-day training.
Without a recharge and rejuvenation period, it is impossible to ‘press-on’ and strive for improvement.
By embracing our humanity and not pretending to be robots capable of endless work, we actually speed our development and improve our chances of obtaining success.
As for Fred’s “knowledge-bomb”… always remember, the power is in the peloton, collaboration is key, and collectively we achieve more.
We must respect the power of the group, always!
"Have fun always" is one of Fred's favorite sayings, and it shows on the bike and off!Photo Credit: Fred Archambault
We hope you have enjoyed reading about Fred Archambault’s criterium success and are as excited about his achievements as we are!
With good preparation, attention to detail, and an openness to learn, Fred is garnering success at a rapid pace, which is incredibly exciting and rewarding to see.
That same success is available to each us, regardless of our starting point.
At Big Wheel Coaching we believe achieving your very best cycling prowess is akin to following a great recipe.
By collecting quality ingredients (good training, equipment, & experience), learning the process of how to mix them (i.e. the do’s and don’ts of training), and adding your own individual spice (developing your own special skills and abilities) you are a sure to create a memorable meal or achieve athletic success!
Until Next Time, Be Safe, Train Hard, & Have Fun!
-Brian & Joy McCulloch
Big Wheel Coaching
Climbing rapidly is one of the most challenging components of cycling. Being at ‘the limit’ on a climb and the full-body exhaustion that comes from a long ascent are sensations that every cyclist knows well.
For some, it is an experience they even dread...
Although 'suffering' on a climb is universal in our sport, a mystique remains around those individuals that appear to climb effortlessly.
But don't be fooled, we assure you these individuals 'suffer' too.
The good news is that every bike-rider can achieve their own climbing prowess through disciplined training, increased self-awareness, and of course, some ‘suffering’.
Whether climbing comes naturally for you, you begrudge it, or you are somewhere in between, what matters most when going uphill is velocity.
Put simply, climbing fast is the name of the game.
With that in mind and the knowledge that nearly every cyclist has a desire to to ‘climb faster’, we have assembled the following climbing tips to help you make the most of your uphill efforts, right away!
Keeping your cadence consistent on a climb requires looking up the road as well as some self-awareness to maintain a smooth pedal stroke, but the benefits they bring are well worth it. Photo Credit: Danny Munson, DMunsonPhoto.com
Predictive Shifting: Reading The Road & Keeping The Cadence Up
For Athletes that have followed a structured training plan, they have likely focused on developing a quicker climbing cadence.
To take this concept to the next-level, we suggest developing the skill of predictive-shifting.
To shift predictively a cyclist simply needs to read the road ahead and shift to an easier or harder gear as the terrain dictates.
By shifting according to the road ahead, instead of reactive shifting (after your cadence slows), a cyclist is able to keep their cadence in the preferred rpm range.
Shifting before steep pitches in the road prevents your cadence from ‘bogging-down’ and throwing off your climbing rhythm.
Correspondingly when the gradient softens, leg-speed can increase rapidly which could spike your heart rate and limit maximum speed, both of which prolong your time on a climb.
In both cases, shifting up to an easier spot on the cassette ahead of a steep pitch and going down the cog-set to a harder gear when the gradient softens is akin to a race car driver keeping the engine rpm of their machine in the best operating range.
Just as the race car driver works to keep their car motor 'singing', cyclists should look to keep their cadence at the rpm that produces the most power for them.
Stand when it counts, both for speed and to keep your heart rate 'in check'. The benefit will be faster and more powerful climbing. Photo Credit: Danny Munson, DMunsonPhoto.com
Strategic Standing: Sweet Relief Without The Heart Rate Spike
When climbing, standing-up serves two purposes:
1- Relieving achy leg and back muscles that are fatigued
2- Generating additional power/speed by recruiting upper-body.
With that said, the unfortunate reality of standing for muscular relief is that it comes at a cost.
When standing for muscular relief, climbing speed naturally dips and our Heart Rates elevate. So, although necessary relief is given to tired muscles, the price of increased energy expenditure and reduced speed are a heavy cost to bare and won't help you in your quest to become an ‘angel of the mountains’.
In order to make the most of the moments when you stand, we suggest standing when the gradient is shallow, not when it is steep.
A good way to practice this sensation, and see its benefits, is to stand at the crest of a climb on your next ride.
Standing at the top of the climb, and over the crest, builds speed with a minimal heart rate ‘spike’, both of which can contribute to grabbing a PR on your favorite climb!
Just because you are 'suffering' on a climb doesn't mean your whole body has to hurt, surrender to the effort and let the legs do the work. Photo Credit: DeAnn Para
Find Your Zen: Surrender To The Discomfort
When attempting a PR or riding with a fast-paced group on a climbing route, you are likely to find yourself 'on the limit' and full of tension. This tension in will only increase as the pressure, speed, and intensity continue.
Unfortunately, the tension described above does not allow cyclists to maximize their power output and generate the fastest speed possible.
To combat this, and to perform our best, we can look to yoga for wisdom and a solution.
In yoga the concept of ‘surrender’ is paramount to performing difficult poses. By bringing awareness to the tension in our bodies, and breathing deeply, we can relax these tense areas of the body, both of which can optimize our climbing performance.
To put this into practice, next time you are on a climb and find yourself at ‘the limit’ take inventory of your body.
Likely there will be tension in your hands, shoulders, and possibly even in your face (hence the hashtag #SufferFace). Take a glance at your shadow on the asphalt and you can quickly see the points of tension within your posture.
In this instance focus on a strong, yet calming exhale, and repeat as necessary to relax the parts of your body that are tense.
By releasing the tension in these parts of your body, through deep breathing, more energy can be devoted to the working muscles in the legs and thus power you up the climb faster.
In short, by surrendering to the suffering and relaxing the non-working parts of our bodies we can ride faster.
In regards to climbing rapidly, the words that Greg Lemond famously quoted are profound and applicable:
“It never hurts less, you just go faster!”
This is great wisdom, but every Athlete must recall that cycling is not a contest of human discomfort, it is a contest of speed, won by those that generate the most velocity with the power they have.
With these tips in mind, as well as disciplined training, you are certain to make the most of the power you have within you today, tomorrow, later this season, and at all your upcoming events!
Until Next Time, Be Safe, Train Hard, & Have Fun!
-Brian and Joy McCulloch
Big Wheel Coaching
The Redlands Bicycle Classic is a world-renowned event that has earned the tag-line, “where legends are born”.
No doubt that is because multiple grand-tour champions, world-class pro’s, Olympians and national champions from around the world come, each year, to compete in the five-day Redlands Bicycle Classic, an event that has a heritage of nearly 35-years.
Besides world class competition, the race is also a proving ground for top-level local and regional teams looking to test themselves amongst some of the world's best.
For Leo Bugtai, this would his first professional stage race as well as his first 5-day event, not to mention his first time racing amongst an international peloton of riders.
To say that he was both excited and nervous for this opportunity would be an understatement!
After a brutally tough event that demanded he give his absolute best, each day, we caught up with Leo to talk about this milestone in his cycling career for this weeks BWC Athlete Profile. Enjoy!
Leo Bugtai completed a cycling milestone, finishing his first pro-level stage race with his SoCalCycling.com race team at the Redlands Bicycle Classic. Photo Credit: Christy Nicholson, EchelonDesignPhoto.com
Primary Sport/Discipline: Road Cycling
Average Hours of Training Per Week: 18-22hrs.
Upcoming Goals: The North Star Grand Prix & Elite National Championships
Question #1: Congratulations on completing the Redlands Bicycle Classic, Leo! As your first Pro race, there is little doubt it was hard, but how did the experience stack-up to your expectations?
Leo Bugtai:Thank you, the Redlands Classic did not disappoint!
The Redlands Classic is something we’ve been working on since I started with Big Wheel Coaching.
The experience came pretty close to how I had envisioned it. The race didn’t catch me off guard, as it has for others, because I had experienced people behind the scenes consistently educating me on what to expect.
What I learned though the race was the importance of every physical, mental, and technical aspect of being an Athlete that I have absorbed since the beginning of my racing career. It tested all of my abilities to the limit!
In addition, what really surprised me is that I hardly knew anyone at the start of the race, the Redlands Classic peloton is so diverse featuring riders and teams from all over the country and the world!
Coaches Perspective/Coach Brian: I am so proud of Leo for all he accomplished during the Redlands Bicycle Classic. Over 180-riders started the race, with more than fifty riders being eliminated on day-one, and even more were eliminated with each subsequent stage.
I knew that this race would challenge Leo to his core, but was confident that he had the strength and tenacity to finish, which he did to a rousing cheer from his family and friends!
As his coach, what I was most excited about was seeing that he arrived at the start of each day, hungry to compete.
Although each stage was physically demanding beyond expectation, Leo was excited for the opportunity to race hard, which had a substantial positive impact on his performance in the days' event.
Despite the fatigue and demanding nature of each stage Leo arrived at the start with a smile! Photo Credit: Leo Bugtai
Question #2: What are some of the most memorable moments of your first pro stage-race and what was your favorite stage?
LB: The final miles climbing up to Oak Glen, which was a six-mile climb that came after over 90-miles of racing was a real test of my self-determination.
It was so steep... and to make matters worse you couldn’t avoid the wind, it was an uphill headwind!
I will never forget my first RBC, specifically how mentally and physically deep I had to go just to finish.
I’m not afraid to admit, I literally cried in agony and relief when I crossed the finish-line at Oak Glen.
I had been fighting the whole 94-miles, every inch of the 10,000’ of elevation gain, and the entire 4hrs of the race.
It was then when I realized why we train so hard. And to think this isn’t the hardest race in the world is mind boggling to me!
For sure my favorite stage was the Downtown Redlands Criterium, which was known to be the “easiest stage” of them all (I use quotations on "easiest" because it wasn’t and isn’t easy).
I haven’t had the opportunity to race in many technical criterium’s so figuring out how to take each corner smoothly (there are nine!) while maneuvering through a field of 150-riders and maintaining speeds above 30mph was a demanding, yet fun, experience.
Also, I should say the spectators at Redlands, specifically the crowd at the downtown stages, gave me goose bumps when I would hear them cheering us on!
It felt surreal in comparison to events I’ve done in the past.
Coach Brian: There is nothing quite like stage-racing at the professional level, the speed, intensity, and crowds are incredible!
From the outside, each stage seems like a monumental challenge in and of itself, yet cyclists race each day as if it was a stand-alone event!
When Leo and I spoke just before the Redlands Classic, I gave him this advice. “Don’t save anything, ride every day as if there is no tomorrow, and be willing to go ‘all in’when the race situation demands.”
The purpose of this advice was that I didn’t want Leo to calculate his efforts. I wanted him to be completely present in the race and be able give his absolute best performance.
Although the Redlands Criterium doesn’t seem monumental, when compared to the other stages of the race, it absolutely demands an Athletes best effort and I am happy that Leo heeded this advice.
Even during the criterium numerous riders were cut from the race, and unable to start the next day, proving the fitness, skill, and focus it required to complete this stage was immense.
Cycling is a family affair in the Bugtai house! Leo's father is always pushing him to work harder and train more, so much so he is willing to support him when he trains in the rain! Photo Credit: Leo Bugtai
Question #3: Following the Redlands Classic, what events are you most excited about and training for later this season?
LB:There are a few logistical hurdles to clear in order to get to the big events out East this summer, but the ones I’m looking to do are the North Star Grand Prix in Minnesota and Elite National Championships in Maryland.
I also want to get some results locally before the season is through.
We have some great SoCal racing on tap for the remainder of the season like the 805 Crit Weekend and the Barry Wolfe Grand Prix. Both of which I want to do well at.
Coach Brian: It is exciting that Leo is going to be able to use his Redlands Classic experience and fitness at summer events like North Star and Elite National Championships!
Each of these events will put Leo in pelotons of riders he does not know on roads he is unfamiliar with, which can be quite daunting.
Being a successful cyclist demands that a rider be able to handle the unknown and figure-out ways to be perform optimally in dynamic situations as much as it is about incredible leg strength.
For Leo these events are going to give him the opportunity to see what racing at the professional level is all about!
Leo has come a long way since he began racing, and the journey is only gaining momentum with his recent Redlands Classic success! Photo Credit: Leo Bugtai
Question #4: What is/are your favorite workout(s) in training? Also, please share a ‘knowledge-bomb’ you learned while preparing for (or during) the Redlands Classic.
LB:Coach Brian prescribed many sub threshold, 5-1/2hr rides leading into the Redlands Classic.
Sometimes they would include some interval work, each hour, but I often took this as an opportunity to do a bit more, which on a few occasions, turned into epic rides.
I would wake up early to ride solo for a bit, then meet up with some friends around 7:30AM, and motor with them on their favorite training ride before having to venture home to complete my day in the saddle.
These rides turned into more than a hard workout, they were awesome adventures!
Long training rides are still difficult, despite their moderate pace, but are one of the things I love most about riding bikes.
Something I learned while training for Redlands is that there are many layers to physical and mental preparation.
It takes a great deal of time to prepare for a PRT (Pro Road Tour) race such as the Redlands Bicycle Classic and it took me months to prepare!
Along the way you need to prepare your body, nourishing it well, and mind, feeding your soul to ensure you can suffer day-in and day-out for what is to come.
If you rush the preparation for a PRT race, you’ll most certainly be humbled when you get to the event.
A simple piece of advice leading into an event of this caliber is to stay disciplined!
Remaining disciplined in your lifestyle, sleep hygiene, stretching routines, workouts, and even taking some time to calm your mind is essential.
Preparation doesn’t mean getting serious a month before the race…!
For me, I knew it would take at least 5-months to physically prepare, and that is on top of all the race experience I got since receiving my Category 1 upgrade in December.
All of this work and I barely made time-cut each day at the Redlands Classic and placed 107thoverall out of the 180 starters goes to show there is still much more room for progress and growth.
In fact, I’m still preparing!
Coach Brian: Leo has been a a diligent “student of the game”, since we began working together, but don't let his results fool you, this is a monumental accomplishment! This result vaults Leo into a whole new level of racing.
When he originally approached me about coaching, we talked about what a major accomplishment it would be to line-up at the Redlands Classic, not to mention what it would mean to complete it.
Although I knew with the right preparation and build-up he could achieve everything he dreamed of, the daily grind of training can often construe our vision and blur the sight of our dreams. Think of it like a ship at sea, sailing through a storm at night, and what it would mean to see a light house, then lose sight of it. It can be all to easy to lose hope, unless the candlelight of determination burns bright!
I am happy to say that Leo was excellent about verbalizing when he was having trouble with workouts or when his body required more rest. This allowed us to continually taper and adjust his training to ensure he was as prepared as possible for his big race.
Despite the humbling nature of this level of racing, what I told Leo after the race is that next year, he will suffer the same, but get better results.
My advice was that the sport of cycling does not discriminate, everyone will suffer, even the most gifted Athletes, but the one constant is that hard-work and dedication always get rewarded in this sport.
I look forward to all that lies ahead for Leo and am so proud of what he has accomplished in his cycling career thus far.
After such a demanding event you might think Leo would be heading to the beach for some R&R...not so! Monday morning Leo was back at work, doing his day job, and thinking about his next cycling adventure. Photo Credit: Leo Bugtai
We hope you have enjoyed reading about Leo Bugtai’s Redlands Bicycle Classic success and that it will inspire you to achieve your very best!
At Big Wheel Coaching we take immense pride in each of our Athletes and applaud their efforts as we have first-hand knowledge of the dedication and sacrifice it takes to be a successful cyclist.
That is why we encourage every Athlete to test themselves to their maximum.
We think the famous poet, T.S. Eliot, sums up our feelings on training and racing with this quote:
“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far it is possible to go.”
Until Next Time, Be Safe, Train Hard, & Have Fun!
-Brian & Joy McCulloch
Big Wheel Coaching
Springtime in Southern California is a great time to be a cyclist!
With mild weather and greenery all around, it is arguably the most beautiful time of the year to ride a bike.
What’s more, spring generally signals a change in training for most Athletes to include more intensity, much of which comes from group riding.
It is also a convenient time to add big rides to training schedules to build on winter volume and further amplify an Athlete’s fitness ahead of a summer event.
With this in mind and in the spirit of celebrating the dedicated Athletes that make up the BWC family, we put together a Springtime Ride that traversed the roads of the upcoming “Queen Stage” of the Redlands Bicycle Classic.
Our group of gladiators crest the climb at the top of the first loop around Crafton Hills, setting an steady tempo! Photo Credit: Gil Ron
For those unfamiliar, the Redlands Bicycle Classic is a world-class event with a 34-year pedigree which has chosen Yucaipa, the home of BWC, as the sight of it’s most challenging stage for the past four-years.
For the Pro Women, the Yucaipa stage of the Redlands Bicycle Classic circles four-laps of the Crafton Hills Conservancy, a 14-mile loop with over 1,200’ of climbing and finishes with a massive ascent to Oak Glen via the brutally steep Wildwood Canyon route.
It’s a route that covers more than 7,000’ of climbing in just shy of 75-miles.
This was our chosen route, quite, the “training ride”, if we do say so ourselves, but absolutely fitting for a BWC spring ride!
We are excited to say that what started with a small invite list of current and former BWC Athletes, quickly became a large group as our Athletes invited friends and training partners.
We started the day more than 50-riders strong!
It was a huge turnout for a daunting route.
It was blue-skies and smiles as we headed through what will be the "feed-zone" in the Redlands Bicycle Classic in early May. Photo Credit: Gil Ron
Possibly it was the epic nature of the route that brought out so many, but we think it could have just as easily been the reward of a BWC-sponsored glass of world famous Oak Glen apple cider awaiting finishers at the top of the climb that drew the crowd!
We are happy to report that many of the riders in attendance had never completed 7,000’ of climbing in a single ride before, let alone done it at a blistering pace of just over 4-hours of riding.
With such a large group of riders and a steady pace, it was possible to keep the peloton almost completely intact, as in very little attrition, on the 4-loops around Crafton Hills.
But it was the ascent to Oak Glen via Wildwood Canyon that really challenged every rider in our peloton!
After more than 5,000' of climbing, fatigue set-in and some riders had to ride the climb to Oak Glen at their own pace. Photo Credit: Gil Ron
On the way to the top the group broke apart as riders settled into their own climbing rhythms.
But the greatest testament to the quality of our Athletes is that as the lead group crested the top, the riders “flipped-it” to head back down the hill and ride to the top with buddies and fellow BWC Athletes.
After all our group collected at the top we took a short break at Los Rio Rancho, an iconic Oak Glen location known for apple cider and apple pie.
Our group shared stories, had some laughs, and downed more than two-gallons of locally grown cider before departing back to the start location back in Yucaipa via one of the most enjoyable descents around!
All in all, it was a great ride, with many riders scoring personal best performances in both power and pace along the route.
There were plenty of stories about the days adventure to share once we arrive at Los Rios Rancho in Oak Glen. It was tough ride for everyone, but a rewarding one! Photo Credit: Brian McCulloch
It was so much fun that we are already looking forward to planning another group ride for our Athletes, their training partners, and our BWC supporters!
So be sure to stay tuned to our social media channels for updates and future ride opportunities with Big Wheel Coaching.
We want you to come ride and train with us!
Until Next Time, Be Safe, Train Hard, And Have Fun!
Brian & Joy McCulloch
Big Wheel Coaching
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.