Ronde Van Mullica Race - Finally felt like Spring!

A picture is worth a thousand words: this is Patrick full gas into the finish to secure 2nd Place in the Men's 35+ race!   A big thanks goes to teammate Mike Barbone and strong rider Josh Cantor for the perfect lead-out!

Other team members Jason Mangler, Austin Conner, Joe Burch, Earl Hunt, Kevin Sullivan and Mike Porter lined up for the Men's Cat 4. No top placings, but it was not for lack of effort in a full field of 65 riders on a flat course.

 1st: Edward Bennett (Crca/Lupus Racing Team), 2nd: Patrick Darken (Zen Masters Racing), 3rd: Jason Wood (Tri State Velo)

1st: Edward Bennett (Crca/Lupus Racing Team), 2nd: Patrick Darken (Zen Masters Racing), 3rd: Jason Wood (Tri State Velo)

Bucks County Classic - Men Cat 2/3

Chris McHugh and Patrick Darken lined up for the Thompson Bucks County Classic Doylestown Cat 2/3 Criterium on Sunday morning, September 11th.

Teammates Jason and Austin were also there to cheer them on and support a great Philly area race.

Race report:

The course was tight in some places so positioning was key throughout the race.  Unfortunately, the race for Chris was over after lap 1 because he got caught behind a crash and was unable to latch back on. As you can see in this pic, he wasn't the only one. 

There were at least 4 crashes throughout the race, and there was the usual braking in the back of the field for turns (8 on this course). Patrick's power profile shows the "yo-yo" effect of a crit and how easy it is too burn through energy if not leading and thereby maintaining a more even power profile. Not shown on the power profile is Patrick's average HR of 176bpm!

Half way through the 20 1.3 mi laps Patrick made an effort to chase down a 4-man break by passing the field on the climb to the finish.  The move didn't last a full lap, but it did achieve a better position for a couple laps before he ended up near the back again. The 4-man break consisting of 2 Cat 2s and 2 Cat 3s stayed away until the finish. Here is a shot of them working well together with about 8 laps remaining. You can see the large group chasing at the base of the hill.

This crit course rewarded those who were willing to take some risk and Patrick smartly wasn't willing to do that for a good position. He stayed upright the entire race while others were not as lucky.  A nasty crash happened right in front of him before turn 2 on the last lap.

Jacob Skrip outsprinted Calvin Hoops in the final 200m for his second victory. Here is a picture taken right when these two racers were starting their final push to the line.

Race Reports in early 2016

April 30-May 1, 2016 - Tour de Gretna Cat 4 - Patrick wins!

 Patrick not only looks fast... he is fast!

Patrick not only looks fast... he is fast!

April 17, 2016 - Lower Providence Cat 4 - Race Report by Earl Hunt

The Lower Providence CAT 4 race kicked off this past Sunday, with Joe, Mike and myself ready to go. The pace was brisk from the jump, but started out relatively safe for the most part…

Two laps in and the pace slightly quicker with safety as clear after thought, things got interesting. Rarely did the group string out. We took corners 4 and 5 deep with guys trying whatever they could to move up with 10 to 13 laps to go and 30 or 40 guys still ahead from my position (mid pack).

With about 9-10 laps to go (garmin says we had an average speed of 25.8 at this time) the inevitable happened, the first of 3 fast paced crashes…. The other two happened in the final lap of the race!

Joe was able to hang on and stay safe for a 10th place finish! Mike and I were caught behind the 1st crash and as a result, we found ourselves chasing back on with several others that shared our misfortune (or blessings). We fought for a few more laps and decided to call it a day as the main group was now behind us….

Zen lives to fight another day… We all left in one piece with the only thing touching the pavement was a cleat at the worse.

April 16, 2016 - Farmersville 4/5 40+ - Race Report by Patrick Darken

Beautiful day but windy. The field was too big and strong for a breakaway to succeed on a rolling course it turns out. Nonetheless, I spent a lot of energy several times trying to make one happen. The pace was often quick and many were dropped. I took fourth in a field sprint.  Our friend Kenny took third. Andy finished further back in the lead group and Jaime off the back.

April 3, 2016 - Ronde Von Mullica - Race Report by James Gonnason

It felt like a hurricane at my place this morning when I emailed the guys saying I wasn't going to make it to the race. Andy Mark then texted me a few times about how the wind was dying down and the sun was coming out, and I realized how much I'd be kicking myself if they didn't cancel the race. Andy would probably be right- the pine barons might provide decent protection from the wind! I had to find out for myself.
I got back out of bed, raced to Hammonton after having to detour due to a fallen tree in my neighborhood, and got my number pinned on my back at the end of the start line with 30 seconds to spare before we rolled out.  The first 1.5 laps were cold. I think the work Patrick and I did during the second half of the race warmed us up really well and gave us good positioning for the finish. Before the last turn, about twenty riders that had been sitting-in had jumped in front of me. As the peloton shifted to the left, into the wind, I saw my chance to get back to the front of the group. When I realized how fast I got to the front and that I was about 300m from the line, I rolled with my momentum and took the wind-protected opening as my invitation to go for it.
Don't let Patrick be so modest... He would have had at least second if he hadn't been blocked at 100m!
It is awesome that we got two guys on the podium today! Can we make this a Zen tradition?

 1st Place: James Gonnason, 3rd Place: Patrick Darken

1st Place: James Gonnason, 3rd Place: Patrick Darken

MARCH 6, 2016 - South Jersey Spring Series - FYBO Criterium

1/2/3 race:  A thousand pricks from number pinning or another minute on the basement trainer?...swab that pin in alcohol first!  Eager to race his bike, Zen Masters Racing newbie Mike Barbone kicked his season off at the FYBO 1/2/3 race.  Insanity from the get-go, the race was pure speed for all 55 laps.  The field held tight with exception of a few local higher cat "beast" culprits breaking off the front early on in the race.  They would stay consistent and lap the field with 4 laps to go.  Meanwhile back in reality, a few attempts were made for a field sprint, but would eventually come back together and all those lapped would cross the line as a bunch.  Mike would finish strong with a top 25 (4th in his category) and plenty warmed up for his next race...

3/4 race:  ....a quick swap from an empty to full bottle of sugary Heed and it was back to the line again.  The 3/4 race would commence with speed, but slow down for the sketchy chicane with a crash on the 2nd lap.  Avoiding the crash, Mike would hang on and consistently move throughout the group trying to maintain good position.  There were multiple break attempts from the field, but swallowed up and it was soon a mass sprint for first.  Mike lost prime positioning, but finished strong in the field at 22nd and with fantastic speedwork under his belt for the day.