Almost Group Shot
TNR managed to gather most of the team for a group shot at the South Side Sprint(by far the best criterium of the year!) Some pics from the day and some onboard footage from Brian Kozicki.
It’s been a while, but the racing has started again in MN!
With spring in full swing in Minnesota the racing season is already under way. TNR is excited to roll out the 2015 jersey design after a few months of work to develop something that is a truly unique design. Bio-Racer will again be our vendor for these kits, so with lead time of 6-8weeks the road season will be half over by the time we get them, but it is well worth it.
Top Natchez Score More Podium Finishes at Velo CX
With the Fall weather finally getting into the sub-50’s, this weekend’s Velo CX was in considerable contrast to the preceding weekend of warm sunny temps. That didn’t stop Top Natchez rider Matthew Prior from scoring both podiums on the Saturday and Sunday races in the Men’s 3/4 35+ category, along side fellow Top Natchez Racer Brian Kozicki in Sunday’s race . Also racing both days was Aaron Collins who finished 31st in the Men’s 3/4 race, and 9th place in the Men’s 4/5 race. Additionally Top Natchez racer Bill Dick finished 16th in the Men’s 45+ race on Saturday. Video from both Aaron Collins and Brian Kozicki(using the *NEW* Shimano CM-1000 camera!) can be found below.
Top Natchez Takes the Top Two Spots
With a new addition to the Top Natchez Racing team, Matthew Prior put it down in the Men’s 35+ to show his place in the pecking order to fellow team mate and close rival Brian Kozicki. Both riders managed to put in some great work, with Matthew Prior just edging out Brian Kozicki for the top spot. A new venue for a weekend race at MCF, but home to the famous Tuesday Night Cross races, was provided a new twist by running it at night. Some cool weather, and some slightly wet grass led to some interesting racing. Addtional racers included Bill Dick finishing 12th in Men’s 45+, John Hammje finishing 18th in the Men’s 4/5 field, and Aaron Collins with a 33rd place finish in the Men’s 3/4 race. Race footage from on-board Aaron Collins bike can be found below.
Tommy Cross – Podium for Top Natchez Racing
Featuring the inaugural race at St. Thomas Academy, this weekends Tommy Cross brought one of the best courses to the MN Cyclocross season. Featuring the smooth and grippy surface of the St. Thomas Academy practice football field and surrounding grounds, and some tight and flowy course layout resulted in a fast and fun course. Weather was about as perfect as one could ask for on a fall day. The whole crew at MNJRC put on a fantastic race and can’t wait until next year to race it(okay maybe we can wait as that means another Winter!).
TNR rider Brian Kozicki landed on the 3rd spot of the podium in Mens 3/4 35+ race. Also notable finishes from the day was Bill Dick’s 13th place finish in the Mens 45+ race, and Aaron Collins first top 10 finish of the year in the Men’s Cat 4/5 race. Race footage from Aaron can be found below.
AC Podiums at the Southside Sprint
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!
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
Top Natchez Racing scores another podium at Mill City CX
Brian 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.
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.
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!
With a rainy start to the Cat 4/5 race, there was question if this day was going to a grueling or really awesome. With the weather clearing out, sunshine and cooler temps it became a really awesome day. With Top 20 finishes in both the Cat 4/5 and Cat 3/4 race, by Aaron Collins and Brian Kozicki it was a strong day for Top Natchez Racing. We really want to thank the guys/gals that put together the Southside Sprint as it really is one of the premier crit races that we get to do, and sets the bar high for others. Thanks again!!!
Race Summary from Aaron Collins (Cat 4/5)
I was looking forward to capturing another 1st at the Southside Sprint. Unfortunately it has been a tough month for me to get out and ride, with a car that blew up, a wedding and a wicked storm going through the neighborhood I haven’t had much time to train. I was pleased when I saw that there was 5 laps to go and I was still with the group and hadn’t exploded yet. When I saw 2 laps to go I knew that I had to make a move now or never. I hit the hill as hard as I could and try and hold out in the front for as long as I could. When I hit the hill on the final lap, my heart rate went through the roof and I just ran out of steam. I was able to stay on the group and give it my all for the final sprint. 20th place is not bad when you really haven’t ridden for a month, but disappointing when you know that if you had you might have gotten Top 10, or even Top 3. Always next time…..
Race Video from the Cat 4/5 Race
State Fair Affair – June 04
Summary from Aaron Collins(Cat 4)
The ride over the State Fairgrounds started nice, but by the time I got there it was raining. I wasn’t feeling super-strong and having never raced in the rain I was more concerned with keeping it upright. Decided to just take it semi-easy and after watching a few people crash on the first lap, this cemented my decision that I just wanted to finish. I probably could have stuck on the group but mentally I just wasn’t in a aggressive mood and my legs felt weak. Hung around with 4 man group and finished the race somewhere near the back of the field. Hopefully the weather is a little nicer for next week
Ken Woods Road Race Cat 4
Top Natchez Results for the Ken Woods Cat 4 Road Race
21st – William Dick 1:57:24
30th – Aaron Collins 2:09:09
Total Race Count – 35
Summary from Aaron Collins
The last road race I did was the State Championship Road Race in 2011 so I wasn’t sure where I was going to end up in this race. The winds were coming pretty hard from the south, and with about 35% of the course heading directly in to the winds I knew I needed to stay with the group. Unfortunately that same part of the course was also riddled with pot-holes making riding in a group situation very interesting. All was good until the start finish climb and I just blew up, was not prepared for the intensity and hit my max heart rate. It was not fun after that , as I got dropped from the pack, so it was a long second lap. Big thanks to Tim Morgan from St. Paul Bicycle Club for towing my butt around the last 1/2 lap or so!