SATURDAY, 3/17/18, WAS HUNKR #2. Could our second edition be better than the first? Months out confidence was high, but as the day approached we were all apprehensive regarding the weather. If it rained it would be an epic day, if not it would be awesome.
Either way, it would be a who’s who of Southern California cycling: Olympians and World Champions Amber Neben and Thurlo Rogers, national champions Rahsaan Bahati and Charon Smith, ex-Continental Pro Jon Hornbeck… I’m sure I’m missing names… let me just say their participation is humbling and gratifying and a tiny bit nerve-racking – we want to deliver a professional product for them.
The idea that “normal” people… really, what’s normal about racing your bike 100k?… nothing!… it’s so outrageous truly normal people don’t get it… yes, the idea that normal people get a chance to line up right behind the talented riders at the front is what makes HUNKR special.
The FUNKR team competitions were even more popular this year. We had more teams in more categories going for top level prizes like Shimano Durace pedals (for the entire team).
With some creative thinking we managed to simplify the start from last year while still using the private roads only available to HUNKR. This was a huge improvement.
Mother Nature didn’t seem to care that we had so many stars ready to race, so many improvements. 50% greater participation – over 22% of whom were female (that’s huge).
Each day showed rain.
Each day didn’t actually rain much at all.
Packet pick up at Shimano headquarters was dry. A beautiful Mazda signaled where to go. Many competitors were so excited they were arriving hours early.
By 4pm we were ready to get them checked in. The line was long, but quickly got up to speed. It was fun chatter as racers met up… a lot friends saying high to friends. After they were checked in they were able to see historic Shimano product as well as all the new shiny gear we drool over.
We went to bed hopeful. We woke up around 4:30 to get an early start. A 4 hour squall moved through and flooded our parking lot in the wee hours of Saturday morning. Ugh.
We had a contingency plan, and put it into action. The backup parking was a mile down the ride. It would prove to be a nice warm up for the racers, and a chance to see part of the private roads they’d soon be racing on. Part of the contingency was pushing the start back 15 minutes.
By 8:30 the racers were in their respective corrals – they lined up based on projected finishing time, fastest up front. 8:35 final instructions were being given. Passion poured through the group. 8:40 we all sang the Star Spangled Banner a cappella. 8:44:55 the 5 second count down and final instruction…
What could be more fun than racing with over 300 of your closest friends?
Because we are always racing for 100 kilomters, there is a race within the race which is “How fast can I do this?” TJ Eller posted:
“I went 26 minutes faster than last year: a substantial improvement that I’m very proud of!“
How did he do this? No doubt he trained, set goals, etc… but somewhere out on that course he made some friends. Together they were all working hard. For sure, chasing the riders ahead, and desperately fending off the riders from behind played big parts.
Those riders ahead included the main bunch. Over 50 riders came through lap 1 together. On lap 2 it became 40ish. Andy Schmidt reported, “It was the fastest race I’ve ever done. Guys would attack and we’d bring them back. The pace was tremendous and never let up. It was so fun! ”
The drama is in the details… heading out for that last lap in the lead group were the best of the best, many flanked by teammates: Methods to Winning, Cannondale, Davis Phinney, Freakshow, Red Monkey with a hungry pack of lone wolves ready to tear up the final kilometers.
Just before the turnaround 4 riders went clear and blasted out of the tunnel. They had 15 seconds on the bunch by Cook’s Corner. Present were pro/ex-pro racers Coulton Hartrich, Stefano Barberi, Marco Arrocha and 17 year old local Andrew Vollmer.
This is Andrew’s home climb. Nobody knows it better.
Stefano knows what it’s like to launch a long range attack. Last year, he was off the front the final two laps only to be caught and passed in the final meters.
By the top, Marco had lost the group.
They were now 3 against 30 with 10 miles to go. Most of it was downhill, favoring the group. But, there was a tail wind… negates much of the big group’s advantage.
At the finish line we saw 3, then 1, then the bunch. They roared onto the private roads out of our sight.
We could only wonder.
It seemed impossible to stay away.
But, it’s a technical finish with rises that would seem easy at the start and now had to be stinging their legs.
Who would win HUNKR #2?
1st Place Coulton Hartrich
2nd Place Stefano Barberi
3rd Place Andrew Vollmer
15 seconds later Marco came in for 4th.
15 seconds after that teenager Ama Nsek won the bunch sprint for 5th.
The top women were able to finish with men in the main bunch – we don’t have a good photo of that, as they came through in a swarm.
1st Place Chrystal Anthony
2nd Place Amber Neben
3rd Place Larissa Conners
4th Place Esther Walker
5th Place Rhonda Quick
How fast are these racers? They covered 100k, 62 miles, with 4000′ of climbing in 2 hours 35 minutes, an average speed of 24.5 miles an hour. That’s blazing speed.
But, HUNKR isn’t just about the fastest or the equal cash pay out for men and women. It’ s about racers like the father and son duo of Eric and Vincent Ngheim, who battled the course together in 4 hours 23 minutes and teenage brother and sister Luke and Sarah Swan. It’s about 22% of our riders being female… we aren’t to our goal yet, but we are far closer than I had imagined we would be.
In the end, it’s about friendly competition. We are so happy with the HUNKR Nation… as a whole, you are a classy bunch we are thrilled to be part of.
There are lots more pictures for you to check out and download free from MSD Photography here.
We look forward to seeing ya at HUNKR 3 on June 9th.