The summer is here and so is the Michigan Road Race Series!!! Let's get to racing! The format is changing this year as the Michigan Challenge Series will no longer be organized and scored by MBRA, but by members of BaseMedia Racing. While we're scoring the series, we want to emphasize that it's still open to everyone - no matter what team you are on! The biggest change from your perspective is the requirement to register for the series using the link below. You can sign up any time during the season and your races after that point will be tracked.
Men Cat Pro/1/2, Men Cat 3/4, Women Cat Pro/1/2/3, Women Cat 4, Men Masters 35+, 45+, 55+
Races Scored In The Series:
Race 1 - April 29th - Willow TT
Race 2 - May 13th - Port City Crit
Race 3 - June 3rd - Waterford Weekend Races
Race 4 - June 4th - Race For Wishes
Race 5 - June 18th - Sylvania Cycling Classic
Race 6 - July 8th - Cycling Lawyer Crit
Race 7 - August 12th - Corktown Crit
Race 8 - August 20th - Gaslight Criterium
Race 9 - August 27th - Debaets Devos Crit
The more time you spend riding the indoor trainer, the more likely you are to develop the habit of riding on the hoods. It's much more comfortable. You can see the TV better.
But there are several reasons why you need to ride in the drops while riding in a pack. Riding in the drops will improve your aerodynamics and allow you to get more benefit from drafting. But the bigger reason to ride low is to lower your center of gravity. This will make you MUCH more stable and give you much better control of your bike. You will negotiate corners better. Riding in the drops will also put your fingers closer to the brake levers, and give you better leverage when braking and allow you to push the bike forward when braking hard. Riding here will also prevent you from getting your bars hooked with the rider next to you.
Riding on the hoods is certainly more comfortable. You can breathe better. You can see the road better. It doesn't hurt your neck and back. But it's not giving you optimum control.
And if the riders around you want you to have anything, it's optimum control of your bike.
Guidelines for Which Categories to Offer:
*When raced together as a 1/2/3 field, the field should be scored as a whole for prize money purposes. However, for the purpose of submitting the races to MBRA category 1/2 racers and category 3 racers should be submitted separately.
Other Requests / Suggestions:
Thank you again for your interest and support of women’s racing!
This article was initially posted online - April 30, 2016.
Author: Jamie Smith
As part of our series of exclusive interviews of Michigan riders who have reached the major leagues, we are happy to introduce you to Allie Dragoo: Allie is one of the fresh faces in cycling today. At first glance, you may think she came out of nowhere since she didn’t race much on the road in Michigan, but she’s paid many dues unseen by road cycling fans. The 26-year-old Grand Rapids native is currently racing for Team Twenty16 RideBiker p/b ShoAir Women’s Professional Cycling Team. She graciously took the time to speak to us recently.
It’s April 30th. Where are you right this moment? And what race are you doing next?
I am in Salt Lake City. My next race is Tour of the Gila in Silver City, New Mexico (May 4-8) then AMGEN Tour of California!
You took a different route to road cycling: via BMX. (John Tomac and Mike Simonson got their start in BMX.) Talk about your path from BMX to Team Twenty16 and tell us about how BMX helped you develop as a rider.
I raced BMX with my brothers for a few years and when they stopped, I was the lone soldier. I raced for roughly 13 years and 2 years professionally until I made the choice to go to college. I received a four-cross scholarship which is similar to BMX… at school the roadies persuaded me to go on a road ride and I was hooked ever since. BMX has helped me in the road scene by being able to hold my lines, ride in a bunched up peloton, sling through the grass if necessary, and be able to take a nudge without grabbing a handful of brakes (most of the time) ha.
You were offered a golf scholarship to college. So really, you could be at a golf tournament right now in a warm sunny location. Instead you chose a much harder (physically) sport. What is up with that?
I played golf in high school and one year of college. I still like golf and think it is relaxing to watch and play, but riding and racing bikes is a lot more fun. Both sports can be very frustrating and I swear I never choose an easy sport to play… BMX, hockey, golf, road racing… Being pushed and pushing the limits is a thrill for me!
You've chosen a different career path (Allie majored in Physical Education at Marian); what kind of support to you get from family and non-cycling friends?
All of my family, friends (cycling or not) are very supportive. I do have a rule though, since cycling is my full time job I do need a mental break from it- so when I go home I allow about thirty minutes of Q&A about cycling and then I just want my family, friend, and me time.
When you ride past a golf course, do you still check out the pin placements?
I do not check out the pin placement but I do know when I am approaching a golf course even if I cannot see it; I can smell it. I also like watching people tee off, putt, and I often wonder if I asked them to assist them in technique if they would let me? I had a coach and many mentors/friends who I listened to and watched closely on form. I like to think I know a thing or two and can help out!
In golf, the women's side of the sport is much more developed than cycling, but still lives in the shadow of the men's game. In cycling, what do you feel it will take to grow women's cycling?
Women’s sports in general are often overlooked. I think we just need to keep being strong and racing our best. We knew from the get-go that we are overshadowed and underpaid, that’s why I don’t complain too much about it… I look for personal sponsors and ALWAYS remember to have fun while I’m racing and training.
I would say that your rise in road cycling has been somewhat meteoric. It's been fun to watch. You've gotten to where you are, basically, in three short years. To you, it probably feels normal, but others really look at it as a quick jump.
I have progressed very quickly but that did not come easy. I asked questions, paid attention, and took as much in as possible. I have a great coach, director, and a manager. I NEED my family and friends support to do this. I pray a lot and make the most out of this great opportunity that I have been given.
What were your goals when you left Marian University? What are your immediate cycling goals for 2016? And what are your long term goals?
During the middle of my senior year at Marian, I was planning on graduating and getting a job; cycling would become recreational and I would just ride whenever I could. I met Nicola Cranmer during cyclocross season and she told me I needed to prove myself. I think I am doing a good job :) but I want to keep improving and keep proving. There are many highs and lows during a season but I make sure to learn from the lows and keep my highs humble.
You hit one snag last fall when you were bumped from the Worlds team. How did that affect your attitude over the winter? And what did you take from that episode?
Worlds was a very good experience for me. Even though I did not get to compete, I stayed and supported team USA when I had every opportunity to get a flight and go home. I learned a lot about myself and how well I could handle a frustrating, difficult, and sad situation. I held my head high, smiled as much as I could, cried when I couldn’t smile but I stayed positive. I started this sport with a lot of support but after this happened my support crew grew even bigger, more fans, and I believe more memories than I would have had if I was in the race. Over the winter I took a few weeks off… I enjoyed the gym, running, and yoga. I caught up with my family and friends. Built a house in Tijuana with other cyclist and realized how lucky I am to be able to ride and race. I reflect back to worlds and realize how minor that “event” was in my life… But you can count on it being used to fuel the fire.
What is your training regimen like? What do you think is most responsible for getting you to the level you're at now? (I would guess it's the leg speed you developed in BMX. But that's just my guess.) What type of training advice would you give to young women racers?
My training varies like any other athlete’s training. Hours, intervals, rest…RECOVERY. I listen to my coach (Dean Golich, Carmichael Training System). It’s amazing how you can be so in tune with your body and know why you’re tired or why you feel so good. Important training advice i have for young women racers: If you’re not having fun, stop, and maybe come back to it. Listen to your body. Eat and drink while training. Recover well. And don’t be a food stickler, enjoy a treat.
What else would you like racers and fans to know about Allie Dragoo?
I just want people to see me as a person. I have two arms and two legs. I make mistakes and learn from them. I am open to constructive criticism. I love my family, friends, I am a Christian, and I like to paint.
Big thanks to Allie for taking the time to provide those responses. We’re proud to call Allie a Michigander and look forward to more great things from her this season. She's painting quite a picture with her racing career - to follow along look for @AllieOop365 on Twitter.
This article was initially posted online - March 3, 2016.
Author: Jamie Smith
As you probably know, Alexey Vermeulen has - at the age of 21 - made the jump to a Pro Tour team this season riding with Lotto-Jumbo after spending a couple of years with BMC's development program. His 2016 campaign has already begun with his appearance at Le Samyn in Belgium on March 2nd riding in support of his teammate, Koen Bouwman. I sent him a handful of questions that he graciously took the time to answer. He gives us some great insight into how he made the jump and what the transition has meant for him.
Alexey, it was just a matter of time before you got called up to the Pro Tour. But we all figured it would be with BMC. How did your relationship with Lotto-Jumbo come to be?
After breaking my wrist in Italy, I had refocused myself on recovering to race the World Championships in Richmond. I was mentally at a mixed place. My entire year had been focused on racing strong at L’avenir. During the year I had the opportunity to stagiere with BMC for the Tour of Utah and Colorado, but I made a difficult decision to continue to focus on L’avenir and pass on that opportunity at that time. My conversations with Lotto-Jumbo started shortly after I had broken my wrist. To be honest, I was very concerned about letting down BMC. Similar to the stagiere decision earlier that summer, I was faced with an exciting but critical decision. In my early conversations, it was evident they were asking the right questions. Lotto-Jumbo had been following my U23 career, and I felt it was a good fit the more I talked to the team. They made it clear that they believed in my potential as a GC contender and were committed to sharpen my skills. In the end I left every conversation more confident that I could make a difference on Lotto-jumbo and more excited to make the jump. I am very blessed to have been part of two incredibly professionally managed teams that have long term vision.
Victories on a resume only carry you so far; one has to have the necessary power numbers to be considered at that level. Clearly, you have those. But what other things do you think Lotto saw in you? What would you hope they saw?
From what I hear, one of the races that impressed them was my performance at Val d’Aosta in Italy this past July. This is the hardest U23 race in the world, I believe, because of the terrain and competition. I hope they saw the way I carried myself on and off the bike. In my mind I was building fitness to win bigger and bigger races. I always try to race respectively and I ALWAYS race to the finish line. These are small things that I have learned over the years from my dad and coach, and I think they are very important even though sometimes in the short term it may not seem to matter.
Your XC running certainly helped your early development. Do you think you would have been as strong a cyclist without other types of training in your background?
This is an awesome question, and yes, I think running and cross training have played an enormous role in my progression, and they still do. It was evident at a young age I had a gift of endurance. I would always have my best results at hockey in the 3rd period and could make up a lot of time late in cross country races. Cross training is especially important in Michigan where the weather plays a role in your outdoor training options. I can ride in -20 degrees, but doing intervals and hard work in that weather is not productive, so I was forced to look for other options to accelerate my fitness. Running and hockey had a lot to do with my early success in cycling, but overall I think it really just helped me to be a more balanced and tough athlete. I did things cyclists never do during the winter…and had to find ways to transition from cycling in order to run fall cross country races. I also have been supplementing with weight training with Marc Mueller since I was about 14 years old when it was Heart of a Warrior (now PowerCycling). Marc has been by my side since the beginning and as my career has progressed. We have even created a couple new moves together, and I even have one named after me! I work 2-3 times a week with Marc for about 2 hours starting in October through January if possible. We work on strengthening issues that I encountered with my body the previous year, mix weights with bodyweight, and with the indoor bike to do some of the hardest training I will do all season.
Do your old running teammates at Dexter H.S. understand the magnitude of riding for a Pro Tour team?
Many of the boys from the cross country team are some of my best friends. We try to keep in touch, and whenever we are all in town we always have an annual reunion at Zingermman’s Roadhouse. In the end though, the usual question is always, “Will you be in the Tour de France this year??” I think if I ever answer “yes” to that question then they will fully understand.
When did you start serious preparation for the 2016 season? And how much more “elevated” or more intense did your training become when you signed with a Pro Tour team? Do you feel any additional pressure?
This past offseason was a bit more complicated with my wrist. Having to take a big break in the beginning of August and build back up in the heat of the season is not great for a professional cyclist. This September, I did not really need a break physically, but mentally I had pushed myself very hard during the recovery from my wrist, so I was happy to have a short break. The off season for me is typically more of a mental break. I am competitive, so when I am off my bike, I am running through the woods or spending time playing hockey. It is akin to rest days, rest doesn’t mean low activity but it does mean low intensity.
I really kicked off the preparation for my season in the beginning of November with Iceman. I usually enjoy starting training with Iceman even though it is after not riding for a few weeks. It is a punch, yet fun awakening to shock my system into hard training. My average heart rate this year was 193bpm for over an hour! Every year is more intense.
This year the big change has been a lot more longer rides, being that the races have some longer days of 200 km+, that is the big step that I have to make. The team understands progression and their trainers have been great in keeping the pressure low during my first season. I know what I want to do with my career and that pushes me to my intensity. Cycling is a team sport, and you don’t want to be the guy that lets his teammates down.
You’ve been with the team for a few weeks now. What were your first few days like? With whom did you make quick friends?
I met most of the team for the first time at a testing session and then at the team presentation in mid-January. It was a busy and packed first couple of days in Europe for me. I arrived and a couple days later I had VO2, lactate testing and EKG screening and more. Everybody was speaking Dutch, and I was introduced to many new faces. When I got to Girona, (Where I am living this year), I quickly made friends with Dennis Van Winden and Robert Gesink who live here also. They helped me find my way around town and have quickly become my best Dutch friends! I also roomed with Wilco Kelderman at team camp, so I made friends with him quickly.
What sort of activities did they do at camp to ‘mix’ the new riders with the established guys?
There were no big events to ‘mix’ riders, although earlier in December the team had a military boot camp for bonding. It didn’t make sense to for me to fly over in December just weeks before my official move, but it is clear the team understands the importance of strong personal connections. They have offered me Dutch tutoring to help me ‘mix’ in with the team more easily. At the pre-season training camp, I had a week and a half to meet and talk to everyone. For the most part, everyone is relaxed, and I was able to chat and start to make genuine introductions and see different personalities.
You mentioned that you feel good about honoring your family name by going to a Dutch team. Explain what that means.
I grew up in a Dutch-American home. I put my shoes out for Sinta Klaas on December 5th eve (Dutch Christmas) and ate large flat pancakes (pannekoken) and boercole. It’s the small things that connect you to your heritage that you don’t know are different from your school friends. My opa (grandfather) raced in Holland, and he gave me his books and trophies, and I identified bike racing through him. He would give me his old racing magazines, and we would talk about racers and strategy. He rode 70km every day, and it seemed the perfect lifestyle. As I have climbed the ladder of my career, I have always felt he is with me. So there is a big feeling of pride to really go back to my Dutch roots, especially where I don’t have to explain how to spell Vermeulen every time someone asks for my name.
What goals did your team set for you for 2016?
I am goal oriented, but the team is not pushing me too much this year with performance goals. I have some hard races on schedule which will push me to test the World Tour learning curve. That said, I would be happy to race to a top ten in the Tour of California and finish the 21 days of Vuelta a Espana (tour of Spain) in August. I would see that as a successful Neo pro season to create a solid foundation to set goals for 2017.
What events have they charted out for you? And how will successes be measured?
Right now my schedule stands as follows: although it is very likely to change based on how I am feeling and what happens throughout the season.
Success will be measured by how well I complete the tasks that I am given in the races, whether that is pulling on the front, getting bottles or having a go for it. The goal is to learn the way of life in the pro peloton and have some fun along the way!
When will it “suddenly get real” for you?
I think the “oh shit” moment will come at Catalunya. This will be my first World Tour race ever, and the riders will be world class from every team. The best of the best will be on the start line, and there is no better way to make the cut.
Your tweets indicate that you're able to stop-and-smell-the-roses at times. I mean, most people rush through life and only realize what they’ve done after they do it. What are some of those moments that you really soak in?
Training and racing are both a physical and a mental battle. I love the bike, but like most things you love, it makes you suffer to earn the love and commitment. I post the sweet spots, but there is a lot of sweat in between. I can always train better when I am happy and enjoying life, and the best way to do that is to take some time to savor the Cappuccino or take a rest day trip to the sea. Spain has provided beautiful moments that I have really loved; I am enjoying the roads and scenery. I am also a foodie, so I always enjoy trying new, unique and elaborate foods whenever I get the chance. I also love the traveling, which can get exhausting, but at the end of the day when I look back, there is almost always a good memory from everywhere that I have gone. That is what will matter the most in 30 years.
Tell us about your family’s support. What are some of the things they did that made it possible for you to pursue your goals?
Everyone says this, but I really could not be where I am right now without my family. From my parents and brothers, to my Aunts, Uncles, Cousins and Grandparents, Oom (uncle) Lambert and Tante (aunt) Mia, my Dutch relatives who follow every race, and are always writing inspiring messages. My grandparents, Deeda and grandpa as well as Great Aunt Bitsy have traveled to many of my bigger races over the past years – Green Mountain to Nationals and Worlds. Everyone has played a part in where I am regardless of their understanding of the journey. It really makes the journey that much more special to share it with family and friends. The support comes in so many ways, but in the end it was the countless times I worked on crazy tactics with my dad, raced around the local trails with my brothers and was consoled by close losses by my loving mother. The support has been unending, always at my side when I have needed an extra voice or hand. I love them so much, and I think one of the hardest parts about signing this contract is that I cannot bring them along on the journey any longer. Now it is time to repay all of the support and make them proud!
Finally, let’s talk about Michigan cycling, and what it did for your development. What benchmarks or events can you look back on as “good education” in the development of Alexey Vermeulen?
I first think of people, and then I think about key races or training situations. Guys like Mark Lovejoy and Joe Christy, who continued to manage the Ann Arbor Velo club junior program after their boys were no longer racing, were critical in the early years of my riding. We had a good group with James Anderson and Eddie Kelly which was so much fun. I recall, in 2008, Mark Lovejoy encouraging me to go to Nationals in Pennsylvania. Registration was already closed, and I only had a few races under my belt, but he knew it would be a great experience. Paul Alman, race promoter, was never short of wisdom and encouragement. My family would hang out at the Spring Training Series all day, and I would jump onto the back of race after race. Then there is Ray, the grandfather of Michigan cycling. I never raced for the famous Wolverines, but I enjoyed racing against them. Ray’s love of bike racing is amazing, and he continues to mentor racers of all ages.
Another person who has played a major role in my career has been Lucas Wall. From the beginning of my career, he has been more than just a coach; helping me to balance my schedule between different sports and has supported me on and off the bike. Ascension in the world of cycling is not only about training as hard as you can, but about understanding what else you need to do to be successful. Lucas has been there every step of the way, and I look forward to continuing to work with him.
Then the Michigan races…I think some of my favorites included Tour of Kensington, West Branch, Cherry Roubaix and Waterford. Tour of Kensington gave me the first feeling of finding my perfect rhythm on a climb, and it wasn’t much of a climb at all. West Branch gave me the feeling of some of my biggest wins, first with the road race and then the race where I attacked from the gun in the cat. 3 crit. Cherry Roubaix allowed me to first start to understand what a stage race was like. I fell in love with what it took off the bike to compete better on the bike. And Waterford…I have messed up time and time again on that race track. I have learned so much tactically and had so much fun over the years with the people with whom I grew up racing and with whom I raced against. I am a stronger athlete thanks to so many people from the Mitten. Whenever I succeed, I have always felt a swell in my heart when I come back and line up for a race in MI, the place it all began, on the race track of Waterford worlds and on the trails of the Potowatami. Michigan will always be my home.
Big thanks to Alexey for taking the time to provide those responses. You can follow Alexey on twitter @alexeyvermeulen He posts a lot of lifestyle observations as well as behind the scenes stuff from Europe.
I'm working on similar interviews with Larry Warbasse, Allie Dragoo, and more Michigan originals. Stay tuned.
As the Michigan Bicycle Racing Association, our mission is to promote amateur bicycle racing in Michigan! This comes down to eight key objectives:
1. Coordinate and establish a balanced race calendar with minimal overlap between events.
2. Encourage USAC clubs in close geographical proximity to work together to host full weekends of events, rather than weekends made up of single racesin different locales
3. . Develop a standardized category system to facilitate points series
5. Encourage promoters to provide races that meet the category specific USAC time or distance requirements for rider upgrades
6. Provide for effective communications between racers, clubs and promoters by encouraging a spirit of cooperation and volunteerism
7. Serve as a unified body that will best represent amateur Michigan bicycle racers in discussions, regarding their needs and desires, with their governing bodies
8. Create a supportive network and environment that enables race organizers to exchange ideas and support each other.