By now, you’ve probably all read or heard about Mark Cavendish’ victory at the world road cycling championships in Denmark this past weekend. The British team did a wonderful job of controlling the race, Bradley Wiggins nailed back the break at the last minute, and Cavendish won a hotly contested bunch gallop. But how interesting is that?
The master’s world championships was a far more exciting race. Held in Stavelot, Belgium on a brutal course that included many of the climbs of Liege-Bastogne-Liege including the Côte de Stockeau kneebreaker, this race was far more thrilling. It was race of attrition, gradually whittling the field of contenders down to just two – Michael Olheiser and James Mattis – and in the final 1 km James Mattis won the race.
At last week’s Webcor/Alto Velo club meeting, James spoke about his victory and showed off his rainbow stripes.
The most interesting aspect of his talk was James’ account of the race – the course, the competition, the action, and the strategy and tactics which led to his outstanding victory. James races for California Giant Cycling . James’ play-by-play account of the race is on the CalGiant website.
It’s been a joy to see James’ ascendency through the ranks of cycling as he has won increasingly prestigious races, culminating in now being crowned master’s world champion.
I first met James on Foothill Boulevard in Los Altos, CA heading north just north of San Antonio Road in 2002. I had been training a lot and thought I was in pretty good shape. I was able to pass almost anybody on Foothill when James comes soft pedaling by me. I hopped on his wheel, barely able to keep pace while he started chatting with me. He was riding a Bianchi bike stamped “PROTOTYPE” on the top tube. I had never met anybody so fast.
A few months later, I relocated back to northern California and ended up joining Webcor/Alto Velo, James’ team. James was one of the founding members of the Webcor pro team, a team that was known for dominating local racing and for having truly nice guys on the team.
Racing for Webcor/Alto Velo at a much lower level, it was very exciting to be on the same team as James. In 2003 I raced the Fort Ord Road Race, placing 13th in the category 4 field. After my race was over, my friends and I stood near the start/finish watching the pro race. The pro race was the district championships, so it was a big deal. With one lap to go, James came through the start/finish with a broken wheel. I gave him my wheel. He went on to place 6th in support of Mike Taylor who won the race for Webcor. After the race, James dropped by my house to return the wheel. Wow!
James career continued to develop. In 2004, he worked alongside Chris Horner in support of Charles Dionne who won the T-Mobile International San Francisco Grand Prix after crushing the entire Postal squad, including George Hincapie.
The coolest moment (until now!) was when James won the USA elite national road championships in 2008. I couldn’t even imagine competing at that level, but once in a while I can ride with the guy with the stars-and-stripes jersey.
For the past 5 years James has been riding for California Giant Cycling. With riders like James Mattis, Steve Reaney (2010 elite national criterium champion), and Jesse Moore (2011 NCNCA elite district road champion), Cal Giant is the dominant force in norcal men’s racing.
Please congratulate James on his outstanding achievement!
Oh, and while we’re at it, I want to put in a plug in for Alto Velo’s new sponsor, Rack ‘n Road. Rack ‘n Road is a family owned business that specializes in bike racks for all sorts of vehicles. They are located in Campbell, on 2272 Camden Ave in Campbell, CA. Here’s a photo of Jimmy & Joe showing off one of their rack systems in the parking lot just before our club meetings.