Countdown to NICA

Sunday we enjoyed our second weekend excursion to ride the Arizona Trail in the southerly direction from the Gabe Zimmerman Trail Head.  The out and back route gave spectacular views and offered fast, flowy terrain; a perfect recipe to get ready for NICA.

It’s finally here.  After a year hiatus from the pandemic, we are on the brink of racing the NICA series again this weekend.  Our first event in Flagstaff should launch the series in style.  As a ‘South’ team, we will compete only on Sunday for the Northern races.  We plan to leave on Saturday at 9am sharp.  Don’t forget that all van occupants will need a mask.

We are really fortunate to have Shannon Scott (Myles and Daniel’s mother) volunteer to run the kitchen on site at the races.  She’s created a signup Genius to help coordinate the much needed and appreciated help in that area.

Here is the week of practices leading to this weekend’s NICA event.


I know this list was sent out by Coach Ignacio but I’ll add the packing list here;




Camping Stuff                                                            Hygiene 


Sleeping bag                                                    tooth brush

sleeping mat                                                    tooth paste

tent/ if you are not in the group tents                         sunscreen

headlamp                                                         hand towel/washcloth




The team has many tents, mats,                                              Camping Clothes  

and sleeping bags. Just ask for one.                                        Toque/ beanie/ winterhat

jeans/ pants                1

long sleeve shirts                       1

Riding Clothes                                                                            socks                       3

Team Jersey                 1                                                     wool socks                       2

High school  jersey                  1                                             bandana                        2

Base layer                    1                                                           t-shirts                        2

arm warmers                1                                                         rain coat                       1

vest/ riding jacket                    1                                           Sweatshirt                      1

long finger gloves                   1                                         under pants                      x

team /riding shorts                  2                                                Shorts                        1

helmet             1                                                               Team t-shirt                        1

sunglasses                    1                                                big warm jacket                     1

riding hat- optional

Bike shoes                   1

Wool Socks                 2                                                                Riding needs


2  spare tubes

Eating Stuffs                                                                                               cell phone                                                                                                                                                                                                   tire levers

insulated mug–YES               1                                              multi tool w/ chain tool

Pump or CO2


Always prepare for wet and cold


Bring extra clothes to stay very warm. If you get Cold your body has to “waste” energy trying to warm up. This is bad for racing, so bring enough to stay warm.

I will bring very large communal tents.

Leaving: 9am from Clubhouse Saturday

Return: Late on Sunday evening

HSMTB Rules: You must wear gloves and eye protection. You have to fix your own flats.




Rain or shine and the rest of the story

Team programming is Rain or shine during the week.


If it rains we can do all sorts of things and we like to have continuity in programming.


Over the weekends if we get rained out that is what it is and we will use this platform to let you know.




Races always have many stories. In fact each racer has a unique story and something to tell.


In fact this is even more true in junior racing because they are not refined athletes with established characters. They are young people discovering who they can  be and using the platform of racing to challenge themselves to learn such.


As coaches its our job to give them the courage to try and the safe place to practice self trust and respect. That is why we race.


Well this weekend we found out that we have some amazing young people on our team.


2 Quick Stories

This is Lucy.


This was her second time on a road bike. She has ridden mountain bikes for years with Grupito and just moved up. She accepted the challenge of coming to the crit race.


On the first lap she was dropped. Not suprising as I am not totally sure she knows how to shift. She can handle a bike no problem but the Sram shifting has given her fits.


Now she gets dropped on the first lap  and immediately ends up in no persons land. She rides a few laps by herself trying hard and listening well as she passed me on the hill.


However after a few laps the 3rd place women was coming to pass her. I challenged Lucy to jump on this womens wheel and to hang on as long as she could.


Now she could easily have said no way, that girl is faster than me and she has already lapped me. She could given reasons not to accept the challenge.


However I had the delight of watching Lucy jump on the wheel of this women and hang on to her for over a lap of the course.


Lucy ultimately dropped but only because she was totally gassed.


I am so proud of the courage Lucy showed to go above and beyond what she thought was possible. She accepted the challenge of her coach and learned how to go all in on herself.


I am saying it now, watch our for the Lucy in the years to come, she has spirit.



This is Nick.


Nick has been with the team now for approx 6 months and has jumped into this with both feet.


But even wonderful motivation and eagerness do not eliminate self doubt.


Nick was terrified to race this weekend and the 3/4 race gave him chills.


I challenged him to give it a try as he has been clear with his intentions on this team.


Before the weekend he tried to talk his way out of it. I did not let him.


Before the first race of the day he tried to talk his way out of it. I did not let him.


After the first race of the day, I did not let him out of it.


He towed the line. He put himself out there and he has crushed a mental barrier.


I respected his fear. I did not ask him to hide from it. I just ask him not to run from it.


All he had to do was get to the line and the barrier would collapse.


Bravo Nick for trusting yourself and your coaches. You broke down that wall.




And there are more to tell

San Manuel and September notes

I want to congratulate everyone for a very fun, exciting and rewarding weekend.  Despite very early mornings, we had great attendance for a rare weekend of road racing; Saturday’s epic Race Against Time time trial event and Sunday’s new criterium- La Clasica San Manuel.  Seeing the El Grupo vans caravan to a bike race was a welcome return and coach Ignacio and I are extremely proud of everyone’s efforts.

The Race Against Time event is a serious time trial.  The picturesque course is predominantly downhill at the start before turning along the San Pedro river valley, where athletes would double back at the Pima County Line.  Climbing back to San Manuel provides all athletes with challenging terrain and proper pacing strategies come into play.

This was the very first race for many Team El Grupo members, but even the more experienced athletes would be challenged by not only the tough course but the rising heat.  Here is a look at the results;

Sunday’s new criterium around San Manuel High School did not disappoint.  Joey Iuliano and his UofA cycling team can be really proud of their efforts to bring a good, safe and fun course to competitors.  A pentagram shape with some elevation gain through the start finish up to turn two meant no picnic for typical crit riders.  Turn 3, 4 and 5 were thrilling high speed affairs to test bike handling skills.

We had big numerical advantage in the junior boys race, but with very capable opponents toeing the line, we’d have to have a solid plan to get the results we wanted.  I was extremely impressed with how accepting and how well all team members executed their assigned roles.  Yes, we’d sweep the podium but it took the entire team and their willingness to sacrifice to ensure of our success.

Our junior girls would compete against older competition to create a larger field of athletes and I was really proud to see how hard our young women raced.  I was even more proud that all the athletes were unanimous to stay and cheer for all the junior boys that would double up to race the 3-4 race later in the afternoon instead of returning home.

The boys would not disappoint and with the addition of Grupito Coach Max Bevier we’d compete against the adults with aplomb.  Max and Thomas in particular were instrumental in helping to slow the field so that Axel up in the break could stretch out a winning margin.  Once that margin was relatively safe, Axel would drop his breakmate for a fine solo win.

Myles would jump up yet another category to the 1-2 race and place a very credible 4th place.  His impressive time Saturday leaves no doubt Myles is one of the very best juniors in the country and it’s exciting to see how his future racing unfolds.  Race results to follow

Can you believe it’s now only two weeks before the first NICA race?  We are really looking forward to this important race series.  With the race season imminent we’ll remind everyone that practices will happen rain or shine.

Here’s our practice schedule for the next couple of weeks;




SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 29th.   We now need you to be at the clubhouse at no later than 4:15 am.   We need to be leaving at 4;30 am.   Remember to have a change of clothes and some food.   We had an incredible day today and we thank you all for your punctuality at… Read more »

Final notes for Saturdays race

Meeting at 4:45 am.   Leaving at 5am.   Please have a change of clothes for after the race.   Bring plenty of post race snacks. You will be hungry.   Ensure that you have a picture of your license.   Ensure that you have signed your contract and have it with you if you… Read more »

We are one week away from some exciting and challenging road racing in San Manuel, organized by our friends at the UofA cycling team!  Saturday is a challenging 30km time trial; a race solo against the clock, while Sunday is a criterium; a 1 mile circuit around San Manuel High School that is raced in… Read more »


The Fun is just about to start.  Congratulations everyone for making it through the toughest part of the season. The base season before the fall racing season is the hardest part of the year. It is super hot, but we still need to put some time in. I appreciate everyone who did their best to have… Read more »

Looking ahead at the season to come

This is still the calm before the storm. We have a solid fall racing campain before us and we are just about to be in over our heads. So stay calm, get school under control, find your rythm within your daily flow and be prepared for the fun to come.   To help get everyone… Read more »


I hope everyone has been enjoying this record breaking monsoon season.  What a beautiful landscape we can ride to these days, with the mountains around Tucson being particularly green this year. Thanks to everyone for signing up in the Pitzone for the NICA events this year.  We will continue to honor the El Grupo tradition… Read more »