Team Clif Bar’s 2018 get-together began in its traditional way, with a warm welcome to the Clif Bar HQ in Oakland, California, by the staff and then immediately heading out for a ride together, catching up from in the saddle.
The mastermind behind the squad is Dylan Seguin. Right from the start a decade ago, Seguin sought to assemble a line-up based on character as much as ability and his approach means his roster is now full of really good guys who are all genuine friends. Their mission is simple: race hard, have fun. While results are great – and the team has punched above its weight in the USA Crits Series to score some top 10s – the priority is to be great ambassadors for the sponsors, and for the entire sport of road racing. One racer summed it up beautifully: «We’re more like a mountain bike team on road bikes. We’re very relaxed, but we can still hammer.» If that sounds like pretty much the most fun road team you’ve ever heard of, you’re right on the money.
After the initial ride, the team caravans its way to a host house in Napa Valley for the weekend. It’s plush accommodation compared to many of the necessarily modest places they’ll be staying at all over the country as they follow the USA Crits Series. Racing criteriums is the team’s focus, and the team’s personality, physicality and equipment is all ideally suited to the high-energy, fast-paced race format around short, city-centre laps. They love putting on a show and have all the best equipment to do so. For railing through corners, sprinting out of them, and maintaining high speeds, the team love the mightily stiff and aero SES 7.8 wheelset.
Through the weekend, the 12 riders cook, eat, and wash dishes together. It’s far from a typical group of young men, and they often joke that they’re all secretly in Seguin’s Cotillion Gentleman’s School, or Crit-illion school perhaps.
A key part of the weekend is a ride with the founder of Clif Bar, Gary Erikson, who takes them on his favorite route. It takes in a river crossing, a few dirt roads, and beautiful scenery, before finishing at his Clif Family Winery. Over coffee, wine, and bruschetta, they listen to a few of Gary’s fantastic stories. Following a weekend of training, bike fitting, sponsor presentations, product R&D, race scheduling, and above all hanging out with friends, the team has a final gift for the Clif Bar employees – a spin class led by explosive, elite-level crit racers. There was a lot of sweat, some wobbly legs, and grins all round.
The USA Crits Series begins April 28 in Athens, Georgia. In the meantime, the team riders are already tuning up at other events and packing in the hard miles. Follow along their fun times here: @clifbarracing