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Chris Benchetler getting it good. photo - Peter Morning
Team Clif Bar Blog
Feb 9, 2011
Get Your Stage-Race On! - Stage Races in March

Murrieta, Madera, San Dimas and Redlands headline California's March stage-race madness! Those of you who managed to stay awake through 10th grade Lit are likely to remember the soothsayer's eerie warning to Julius Caesar: "Beware the Ides of March." But, old Bill Shakespeare wouldn't have been so freaked out by the month had he lived in California. And been a bike racer.

Team CLIF BAR - Merco - Stage Races in March

For March in California means stage racing...and there are some good ones on the calendar this year. As most of the nation is just beginning to dig themselves out of the annual deep freeze, bike racers in California are already feeling their race legs come March. Early season crits have put an edge on the winter base training, and riders are ready to show their form in the first big races of the year. As a racer, I could never really hold my own in multi-day events - I just couldn't recover well enough to race several stages in a row. Truthfully, I could barely race one stage in a row. But, the things I really liked about stage racing generally didn't involve being on a bike. Traveling in a truck stuffed with riders and equipment was usually kinda fun, and it always seemed like stage races were at least three hours away. Hours spent driving provided an opportunity to get to know your teammates better, and talk about something other than bike racing. OK, we never talked about anything other than bike racing, but it's a nice thought. Staying in a motel filled with hundreds of cyclists was also enjoyable, as long as you always abided by the rule of 4 to 1. Four riders to one room. Any more riders and you surpassed the room's ability to air itself out on a daily basis, rendering it uninhabitable. Any fewer riders, and it's likely a teammate would miss out on a rare man-snuggle opportunity. For all you cat 5 riders out there: these are words to live by. As a lackluster sprinter who had almost no chance of ever winning, early season stage racing in California provided a perfect opportunity to improve my tan lines, enabling me to look super hardcore in other regions. Nothing strikes fear into the hearts of riders at an April east coast crit than a strange rider showing with a sharp line dividing the dark skin from the pasty. Cycling may be the only sport in the world in which tan lines are used as a form of intimidation. This year's March stage races look to be more awesome than ever! Madera is the obvious choice for riders in the NorCal district. With its short drive, sprinter-friendly road courses, and the opportunity to get stung by bees multiple times during the flat orchard time-trial, who can resist?

  • If your preference is to head south for a good shellacking by the domestic pros, then the San Dimas Stage Race might be just your thing.
  • In my humble opinion (that's IMHO for those of you who haven't looked up from your iPhones in two years), though, the smart money is on the Tour de Murrieta. Murrieta is awesome for several reasons: First off, the Cal Pools and Spas cycling team always provide a well-organized event. Secondly, the courses are nicely varied, consisting of an unpaved time-trail course, a technical downtown crit, and a circuit race with some fast rollers. Plus, you can bet on good weather, great competition and friendly locals.
  • If you manage to survive all that racing, then the Redlands Bicycle Classic will be waiting for you at month's end with all its NRC""> goodness.

So get out there and do it. Live a little. Spend some quality time traveling with your teammates, sampling the delicacies from dozens of In-N-Outs and Central Valley burrito joints. Bike racing is damn fun and the quality of races in the Golden State is second to none. Just another reason why Cali is the best state in the union, IMHO.

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