Southern California is known across the country to have the most competitive and dynamic criterium racing scene with robust pelotons and fast racing amongst a tightly knit peloton of riders.
And of all the SoCal Crits, California Bicycle Racing events, or “CBR’s” as they are known to local bike-racers, have the reputation for being the most well attended.
So it is no surprise that we were very excited to coordinate a unique coaching experience for a team of Category 4 riders at the final race of the CBR Resume Builder Criterium Series.
JL Velo "styled-out" our Cat 4 team with great looking jerseys so they could look like the bike race team they raced as! Photo Credit: Joy McCulloch
The idea behind the CBR Elite Race Experience By Big Wheel Coaching was simple:
Give a small group of Cat 4 racers a “pro for a day” experience that would blend one-on-one coaching with team strategy and race tactics aimed at helping them make the most of their day in the saddle.
With the help and generous support of BWC Partners, JL Velo, GQ-6, Topical Edge, and Xpedo Pedals, not to mention Elevate/KHS Pro Cycling and KHS Bicycles, the CBR Elite Race Experience By Big Wheel Coaching was set to be a great success!
However, even with this great support, it was the enthusiasm and effort that each rider brought to the days racing that made this experience incredible.
Following a great day at the races, we caught up with each of our CBR Elite Race Experience riders to learn what it was like to be “pro for a day” and race in a team atmosphere in a three-question interview.
We hope you enjoy what the team thought of the CBR Elite Race Experience By Big Wheel Coaching!
Even the early morning cold couldn't hide the excitement of our team of riders. They were fired-up to make their mark at the final CBR Resume Builder Criterium. Photo Credit: Joy McCulloch
Question #1: What was it that got you excited about signing up for the CBR Elite Race Experience? What did you hope to learn from the one-on-one coaching?
Ryan Resella: I had done a coaching package with Big Wheel Coaching back in 2016 and know Brian and Joy. I've always learned a lot from them, so when I saw this opportunity specifically tailored to Cat 4 racers I knew it would be another good opportunity for me to learn.
I have been a Cat 4 for two seasons now and I still have trouble getting results in crits.
The thing I was hoping for most from the one-on-one coaching was having a coach watch me race and be able to provide immediate feedback. Which I got not only after the race, but during the race!
Brian was incredibly helpful talking to me during the race about strategy, position, and mental toughness.
John Tawekjian: What got me excited was knowing that I was going to be mentored by a pro-cyclist!
What I hoped to learn from the one-on-one coaching was learning how to race smarter, conserve power during the race, and how to stay calm under pressure.
Ryan Voth: I signed up because I wanted guidance from an experienced rider, in the moment. I liked the idea of one-on-one coaching.
Brandon Poser: I was looking through Facebook one-day and noticed the flyer about the Elite Race Experience that was posted from CBR.
I was already planning on being there for the race, so that got my gears turning. A few days later I received a message from Brian asking if I had any interest, which of course I did.
After a quick chat with him, I signed up later that night.
Having known Brian for a little while, I know that he has a vast amount of racing experience as a professional bike racer with Elevate/KHS Pro Cycling as well as being a full-time coach with Big Wheel Coaching.
Together with his wife Joy, they have a wealth of knowledge on the ‘ins’ and ‘outs ‘of racing. There wasn’t any one thing that I was looking for, rather I wanted to take it all in. I was a sponge for the day.
Louie Peick: What drew me to the CBR Elite Race Experience was getting more comfortable racing within the peloton and learning more about race tactics.
That and being able to work with my Coach (Joy), one-on-one.
JL Velo jerseys and the Elevate/KHS Pro Cycling Team van helped give our riders the "pro for a day" experience. Photo Credit: Joy McCulloch
Anson Araujo: I was stoked to take part in the CBR Elite Race Experience because I knew Brian and Joy would be able to address the things I struggle with most, while also helping the group of us work together to achieve a common goal.
George Turner: I was excited that the program was offered to Cat 4 racers and actually geared towards people that have been racing.
I wanted to learn how to be a better rider, especially the mental-skills side of racing. We can all corner, etc., yet knowing the Who, What, When, Where and Why's about racing is more important and even more vital.
Knowing is half the battle, the other half is just doing it.
Edgar Torres: I was stoked to be coached by an actual pro! Someone that was tried and tested in the trenches of racing, and who was associated with Team Elevate/KHS, (I know David Santos, and he speaks highly of them).
So when I saw the email it hit close to home. The manner in which Coach Brian replied to my email about being interested in the program was clear and honest. It communicated to me that this was a level of education that only a mature cyclist could provide.
His demeanor put me at ease, and made me feel like he's been in my shoes before and knows what it's like to juggle time with training, and that helped me jump at the opportunity to sign up.
I thought if he knows how to communicate well, then I'd be able to understand him better and apply his advice.
With three races on tap, it was a busy day for our team of Cat 4 riders! The boys raced their hearts out! Photo Credit: Joy McCulloch
Question #2: What was your personal highlight from the day?
Ryan Resella: Getting to CBR and rolling up to the team tent. We had a full tent with chairs and everything we needed!
It definitely felt like pro status! Usually, I just get ready at my car and then warm-up and warm-down by myself. But today I had a whole team to work with!
I didn't have to stress about all those small details that come with bike racing, which was great.
John Tawekjian: My personal highlight from the day was being able to adapt quickly to riders that were foreign to me.
Riding around unfamiliar riders can make me uncomfortable, so it was a big victory to be able to ride in the peloton confidently!
Ryan Voth: Figuring out that I can take time off the pedals and maintain some power when I need to move up.
I was not expecting to place in any of the races, but was surprised to finish on the podium in the first race!
(Note: Ryan scored a hard-earned 2nd place in the first race of the day.)
I also had my first experience figuring out how to work with teammates in a field of other teams.
It was a whole other level I haven’t experienced during group rides or unsanctioned crits. I had a blast!
Brandon Poser: My personal highlight from the day was racing in, and completing, 3 races on the day.
Having had knee surgery at the end of August this year, I wanted to test my knee and my fitness.
Last year I had attempted to race multiple events in the same day on several occasions and it didn’t go that well.
I can say that I feel that my knee and fitness level is already better now than earlier in the season when I thought I was more fit!
I’m really looking forward to next year!
Louie Peick: With Coach Brian’s help I became much more conformable within the peloton.
This has been my biggest challenge in races so I am very happy to have developed the skills and confidence to draft tightly in the group and use less energy!
Our team of Cat 4 riders competed against large fields of riders. In one race there was over ninety entrants! Photo Credit: Joy McCulloch
Anson Araujo: My personal highlight was the amazing feeling of camaraderie and being able to work for the team to provide support in our common goal!
It was awesome to ride with a group of guys!
George Turner: I have not raced in over a year. With the knowledge and information gained I was able to not only race, I finished TWO races in one day!
I was actually going into the day hoping I could last 5-laps, not do 2 races, much less finish them both because of the information I learned!
Edgar Torres: My personal highlight was finishing 3 races strong!
The race highlight for the day was navigating through the peloton to gain position with confidence. Brian said to stay top 20 then move up to top 5 within 4 laps to go. And that was the goal for each race.
Each of the 3 races had their own highlights as well:
Race #1 Cat 4/5: Maneuvering and staying clear of the madness while conserving energy.
Race #2 Cat 4: I tried my hand at leading-out my teammates with half a lap to go.
Race #3 Cat 3/4: Conserved energy, held on, and finished.
All in all I took many mental notes and stored them for upcoming races.
Post-race debrief sessions were a staple in the days routine, allowing for the team to hone in on what went well, as well as discus what could be improved. Photo Credit: Anson Araujo
Question #3: What is one thing you learned, that you would like to share with other Category 4 racers?
Ryan Resella: I think the thing to remember with Cat 4 is that everyone has varying levels of ability and fitness.
There's people who have just stepped-up from Cat 5. On the other hand, there are people who are definitely Cat 3-level riders that might become a Category 2 or 1 someday, so they are just “passing through”, so to speak.
And there are plenty of folks in between!
So every Cat 4 race is different, I've been in events that have an easy pace until the last five-laps, as well as some that are strung-out the entire time.
I tend to like Cat 3/4 races more than the straight Cat 4 races because racing and riding with people who are faster and better is how one grows and gets better as a bike racer.
John Tawekjian: One thing I learned that I would share with other Cat 4 racers would be to stay calm and avoid negative outbursts during the race.
Yelling at each other is rarely productive and is a major distraction from the racing. As Coach Brian said, the race is up the road, so don’t get distracted arguing with the guy next to you!
Ryan Voth: Don’t be afraid to drive to events out of your area!
Being from Redlands, we don’t have all that many race events in our locale, so I was really excited to spend the day with a whole bunch of like-minded people outside my regular circle of riders.
Brandon Poser: There were a ton of things I learned on Sunday!
I think one thing that I could share with other Cat 4 racers would be that everything is smoother at the front of the peloton. The amount of surges is far less and it’s way less sketchy too!
If I could also give some advice, it would be to avoid braking so much entering the corners. On the CBR course we raced on, you don’t need to even touch your brakes since the corners are so wide. Just my opinion, of course.
Louie Peick: I learned how much easier it is to draft tightly, rather than working so hard to keep-up while being outside the peloton.
Staying within the pack makes racing a lot easier!
I was super-happy with this class, learned a lot, and really appreciated having Coach Brian on the course while we were racing.
He was able to give a lot of pointers during the race which helped me so much!
Before the first race of the day, the team took a "sight lap" to survey the best lines and discuss optimal race tactics for the course. Photo Credit: Joy McCulloch
Anson Araujo: If I could share one-thing with other Cat 4 riders that I took from the day, it would be to always stay on “high-alert” in the peloton because the race can change in an instant. If you’re not ready to react then there can be severe consequences.
Another one I would share is to show up early to make the most of your day!
Being late and getting stressed-out over your gear and registration does not get you anywhere!
George Turner: The race is in front of you, so there is no reason to ever look back.
Not only is this a race lesson, its a life lesson!
The past is the past, and leave it there... No looking back because you can't change yesterday or what's behind you, yet you can change what you do going forward so you are able to avoid the obstacles ahead.
Edgar Torres: #1 is Efficiency. That's the name of the game.
Joy said that you could be less fit than the other riders, and still podium, but only if you're efficient with your power!
You're efficient when not braking into turns, but carrying your momentum through them and accelerating out of them. You're also efficient by warming-up and cooling-down between races.
Thank you again Joy, & Brian for looking out for the beginners!
The team received great product from GQ-6 and Topical Edge to help make their day at the races as successful as possible. Photo Credit: Joy McCulloch
We hope you have enjoyed reading about the CBR Elite Race Experience By Big Wheel Coaching as much as we loved organizing and putting the event together.
At Big Wheel Coaching we believe that proficiency and “how” we ride our bicycles is as important, if not more so, than how powerfully we ride.
Cycling is a sport that requires experience, boldness, cunning, perseverance, and aggression tempered with patience, not to mention great fitness!
It’s why we use the hashtag #TrainYourPotential, because training the human-element of sport is just as important to an Athletes’ success as developing the best fitness possible, regardless of your goal event or ability level!
Until Next Time, Be Safe, Train Hard, And Have Fun!
Brian & Joy McCulloch
Big Wheel Coaching
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