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AC Podiums at the Southside Sprint

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Not a better way to end the Crit racing than for TNR rider Aaron Collins to podium at the Southside Sprint in Minneapolis. Aaron put in the extra effort into the Cat 4/5 race, as it’s literally the only crit that he can ride to in under 3 minutes(not that it helps the warm-up!). Aaron’s thoughts and video can be found below.

Really wanted to win this one, its by far my favorite crit, and it being in my back yard means even more. That didn’t quite happen today as I got taken right at the line. Great work by those guys closing down at the line like that! Either way great way to close out the road season for me as I will be out of town for the State Championship Road Race this year. Time to start training for ‘cross.

Huge thanks to the team that puts on the Southside Sprint, can’t say enough good things about the race. Also loved the extended patio seating on the main straight!

Hopkins Crit – Crushin’ some raspberries

TNR rider Aaron Collins again took to the road in the Hopkins Raspberry Festival Crit race on Sunday, July 13th. Racing again in the Cat 4/5 race, Aaron finished just off the podium with a 6th place finish and his best of the year finish. Aaron’s race summary is below, as well as video from the race.

I debated racing either the Cat 3/4 or the Cat 4/5 race. I decided to just to race the 4/5 race as it was earlier in the day and I could still be somewhat productive in the afternoon. I again try to get off the start as fast as I can as its good training for cyclocross, and avoids the craziness that is the first few laps of a Cat 4/5 race. I was feeling pretty strong, but wasn’t sure where I stood. Decided to sit in the pack for a bit and score some Primes and see what happens. First prime I somehow missed as I didn’t hear the bell, the second one I heard and decided to go for it. Put down 100% power and was able to pull a gap pretty quickly so I new there was some strength in my legs…but I burned a few matches to do that. Last lap I had recovered enough to give it a go again. I didn’t want to jam myself up the inside to make some passes so I sat behind the U of W rider, and then decided to go all out on the last straight sprint. Made up quite a bit of time but if I had been more aggressive on that last lap I could have been on the podium. Its a fine line, and in the end of the day I would rather ride home.

Big thanks to Flat City Cycling(http://www.flatcity.org/) as they put on a great event!

State Fair Affair – The Finale

The final race of the State Fair Affair’s three race series was again a sunny and rain free event in an otherwise soggy spring/summer in Minnesota. Rider Aaron Collins again took to the course to test his skills in the Men’s Cat4/5 race. Aaron’s race summary and video from the race can be found below

Having picked up a cold over the weekend I was not sure how I felt, the ride over I felt generally weak, but by the time I was on the starting line I didn’t feel as tired. A massive pileup that I narrowly avoided reminded me that I would rather finish this race in one piece. I tested my legs in a couple of the sprints to see how I felt, and they in general felt good. I wasn’t aggressive enough in the last lap and just couldn’t get up to the leaders without doing that. Finished 15th and just a few seconds of the leaders(again!). Such a great series and well run, can’t say enough great things about the Cat 6 dudes and they race they put on!

State Fair Affair – Part Deux

After watching some great racing at the North Star Grand Prix and being insprired, Top Natchez Racing’s Aaron Collins took to the streets of the state fairgrounds for week two of the Category 6 Racing Squad’s State Fair Affair-Curse of the Spandex Hex.

A quick race summary from AC

My goal for this race was to score some free beer on the Ninja Primes. I rolled the dice to see if they would throw one out in the first few laps. Unfortunately that plan was foiled by another fast rider who would just launch down the start-finish and I couldn’t hang. Decided to just drop back into the pack and roll around to see what was left in my legs. Was feeling strong but made the mistake of not attacking hard on the last lap on the back straight, got stuck behind a slowing rider and that was it. I just come to this race with one goal, to earn a beer…but to no avail.

Its Summer Already….and time for some Crit Races!

It was a another late spring, and outside the Almanzo 100, there has been little racing action. To aid this situation, rider Aaron Collins decided to run the Cat 4/5 crit at the annual State Fair Affair “Curse of the Spandex Hex”

Summary from AC is as follows

Legs were feeling strong, got a great start but didn’t want to go solo on the first crit of the year. Decided to slow down a bit and let the group catch back up. Hung around the front trying to time a couple of the ninja primes but missed out. The crash about halfway through the race reminded me that that stuff happens and that going to work tomorrow is just as important as winning. Dialed it back a little and just kept the legs spinning. Ended up respectable 20th and just a few seconds off the leaders. ALl in all it was a great race and the Cat 6 Racing Squad always put on a great event!

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Getting ready for the Ronde Van Vlaanderen

1970-tour-6-tappa-Merckx-inGetting ready for the Ronde Van Vlaanderen

The legend talking about the best race of the year.  See the link above.

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Thank you Challenge Tires!

Stoked to have Challenge on board with Top Natchez Racing this season for gravel and road racing tires! We have always raced their tubular and open tubular tires for cyclocross and truly enjoy the performance that they provide. They are extremely supple, durable, and well handling. Looking forward to racing on them this season for Almanzo100 and the MCF road season. Thanks!
Check out their offerings at http://www.challengetech.it/
The latex tubes are a must as well!

Keeping it 100 on the Lake Minnetonka RT.

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What’s better than gravel… snow!

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All Set for MN State CX Championship

Got out for a quick preride this afternoon.  The course was in good shape.  Fun and tough.  It is a little different from the last few years but still takes in to account the aspects that make this a tough venue….stair runup, sand pit, & some power sections.   Since the high temp will be 0ºF I think this figured in to the design.  Most of the course is plowed besides for the sandpit.  Leading up to the stairs is different by approaching from the other side.  Its a fairly difficult climb to ride that leaves you gassed going into the stairs.  Little sketch here and there as there are sections with straight up ice so keep it nice and smooth.  Hoping for a good turn out as TNR is looking to defend in the Clydesdale (200 lb.) division.

In the age group races on Sunday, conditions will be challenging as well with a warmer temp of 13º and up to 4″ of fresh snow.  Oh yeah!

Another Podium for Top Natchez Racing – Sculpture Cross 2013

With a chilly start to the morning at 16°F and with most of ground rock hard, there were concerns among the Top Natchez Racing crew if this would become 45 minutes of torture. With sunny skies, and some good cold weather gear, riders Brian Kozicki, Bill Dick and Aaron Collins took on the fast flowy course with a 2nd place in the Men’s 35+ for Brian, and a 4th for Bill Dick in the Men’s 35+. Aaron finished out with a 7th in the Men’s Cat 3/4 race.

Race Review – Aaron Collins

Seeing the temperature indicator on the car at 16°F as I pulled in made me a little worried that I wouldn’t enjoy this. After putting on about every piece of kit I brought with me and I did some laps to warm up. The course featured some pretty fast sections and some good technical climbs, albeit that they were short and close together. There wasn’t much elevation change on this flat course, nor was there any tight turns so very little braking was required. With a southern wind, the start finish section was really fast, and with the frozen soil even faster. The sub-zero temperature made the hard packed dirt really fast, but also made some sections of course jarring. I wasn’t paying attention at the start, and suddenly the whistle was blown and the race was off. Unfortunately I was still adjusting my helmet, so they all had a 15 second head start on me. I just put the power down quick to catch up as the group would be bunched up and slow through the first few turns. I caught on the back, and used the momentum to push up to mid-pack. This was great until we hit the 3 risers, I was forced to dismount as a rider stopped at the top. I got trapped trying to climb the frozen embankment and was quickly pushed back to last. With a bit of work I made it passed a few riders and was closing in on the next group. When the gap gets to 20 seconds or more, it is hard to stay motivated but when I saw rider Chris Huseby  fall off the back with 2 laps to go I figured I might be able to get him.  I couldn’t quite close in him, even during a last dash sprint and missed another place by 3 seconds, but still a good day. Overall it was a great time, and the post race fire was a warm respite from the cold. Big thanks to Olivier from L’Etoile du Nord Cafe for setting this up as it was great race..THANKS!.

On Board with Brian Kozicki

Sculpture CX this Sunday!

Looking forward to racing a course that I haven’t been able to in the past….Sculpture Cross in Franconia, MN.  This should be a great event as Oliver from L’ETOILE DU NORD knows what he is doing.  Thanks to all others for making this happen!  Looking forward to checking out some sculptures.

Event flyer:  http://www.mcf.net///misc/2013/Cyclocross/sculpture2013.pdf

Sculpture Garden:  http://www.franconia.org/sculpture

Top Natchez Racing scores another podium at Mill City CX

mill_city_podium_masters3_4_2013Brian Kozicki scores another podium by finishing 3rd place in the Mill City CX races in Bayport, MN. With sunny skies and mid-50 temps made it a near perfect day for cyclocross. Check out the onboard footage from Brian’s race below.  Mill City CX was probably my favorite course of the year.  Challenging sections and opportunities to test handling and power.  Enjoyed it for its open and flowing feel.  Nicely done!

On Board Video from Brian Kozicki(Cat 3/4 – Men’s 35+)

Two on the Trot – Brian Kozicki on the Top Spot at Jackson Meadows

A cloudy and windy day at Jackson Meadows was apparently just the type of weather that Top Natchez Racing rider Brian Kozicki thrives in. Scoring a strong win in the Men’s 35+ category puts this the second podium and first win of the season for Brian Kozicki. With a course that was heavy with climbs, soft grass, and a gnarly uphill pea gravel climb made it a power course. Rider Aaron Collins had another tough weekend as he struggles to get used to the pace and intensity of cyclocross racing.  A huge thank you to skinnyski for the pictures once again.  What a great resource for our community.

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On Board with Aaron Collins(Cat 3/4)

The Streak Has Been Broken – Velo CX – November 3rd, 2013

Top Natchez racer Brian Kozicki finally broke his streak of being just off the podium. Pushing himself to a 2nd place in the Men’s 35+ race, Brian earned a well deserved podium. Aaron Collins had unfortunate flat tire only 1/2 a lap into the men’s Cat 4/5 race, he made a valiant effort to get to the wheel pit and swap out to a neutral race wheel.  Thanks to Omnium Bike Shop for providing neutral race support at this event!  Later in the day, racer Bill Dick put it down in the Men’s 45+ race, but just couldn’t put enough down, managing a mid-pack finish.

With nice weather, and a great course rides Brian Kozicki and Aaron Collins doubled up on the races running 2nd races in the Men’s Cat 1/2/3 and Cat 4/5, respectively. With 45minutes of racing already under his belt, Brian hammered  through another 60 minutes of grueling racing to finish mid-pack. A strong achievement considering is previous podium in the morning. Aaron Collins also already had 45minutes under his belt(10 minutes of that jogging around the course!) but managed to score the hole shot in the Men’s Cat 4/5 race and maintained a strong pace for the first lap. Unfortunately his fitness was not what it needed to be to hang with the lead group, and was slowly relegated back to a mid-pack finish.

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Cat 4/5 Race

 

 

Cat 3/4 Race

Red Barn CX

 

A strong performance by Top Natchez riders at last weekends Red Barn CX highlights the continued progress of improvement for riders Brian Kozicki, Jameson McGuine and Aaron Collins.  Brian Kozicki was again just off the podium for the Masters 3/4 race with a strong 4th place finish, and 9th place overall. As a relative rookie CX rider,Jameson McGuine again showed excellent pace in the Men’s Cat 4/5 race finishing 7th in the class 16th overall in the race. Aaron Collins rounded out the Top Natchez racers with 11th place finish in Men’s Cat 4/5, and 24th overall finish.  These riders are looking forward to test their skills at the upcoming Velo CX, especially rider Brian Kozicki who is looking to break the 4th place streak and land himself on the podium!

TNR Levis Training Weekend

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Great weekend of riding at Levis.  Trails were great and the rain wasn’t too bad…little cold but at least a beer cooler wasn’t needed.  Best trails around.

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Wirth CX Recap

Top Natchez scores a Top 10 finish in Men’s cat 3/4 by Brian Kozicki along with a strong showing by Bill Dick with a 23rd place finish. Aaron Collins rounded out the Top Natchez team with a 44th place, and although still a ways from a podium is a marked improvement over previous races.

Theo Wirth Recap By Brian Kozicki

Great day of racing with awesome weather. After preriding the night before I was concerned with the difficulty / safety of the course. I was afraid of the water drainage ruts on the downhill and uphill but they were filled in better and more predictable. The stairs were hard as ever but the several training runs up them helped. Also it was really nice to race on the freshly cut MORC trails. So thankful to have so many nice trails in town. The course was spectacular in every regard and was a nicely ran event. Thank you for all of your efforts for putting on a killer event. Ended up racing the first race of the day (Masters 35+ 3/4) which ran along with the 3/4. Didn’t get enough I guess so I also did the 35+ open race later in the day. My back is shot and have some sore joints but well worth it. Much thanks to SKinnyski as well for always representing what’s great with the outdoors and our community.

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Onboard Footage from Aaron Collins(Cat 3/4 Race)

Action Shots by SkinnySki

Excited for Theo CX

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Did a quick preride tonight.  Yeah, that’s the line you want….followed by the nasty stair runup.   That is followed by the new singletrack.  Very tough course.  Should be fun.

CX Bottoms Style

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Prefect afternoon for some MN river bottoms.   Rode the full length from Mendota to Bloomington Ferry.  Excellent out there.  Get some!

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