With the San Dimas Stage Race now at an end Team La Grange stands atop of the cat 3 Race. La Grange left nothing for anyone else to win just as we had trained for.
…how that came to happen was a bit of a surprise.
Coming into the Time Trial, I had trained a week before on the course by doing intervals. Through comparisons of last year’s times, I knew my chances were slim. With a best time of seventeen minutes, there was no way to be in the general classification. On the day of the race, I made sure to warm up knowing that I had to maintain a heart rate above 190 (my proven sustainable max for this climb). Everything seemed to be going well until my chain dropped as I was about to roll to the starting line, after a quick fix I lined up, ready to start. My teammate, Jeffrey Tuttle, was running a little late and had to rush over for his own start time a minute before me. He got there late, and subsequently started about twenty seconds ahead of me. Having not properly warmed up Jeffrey’s chance of making a great time was at a disadvantage. He knew that I was right behind him, so with him in the distance I was able to maintain a high pace. There’s not much to say about the TT because it’s pretty basic. Hurt and hope your heart doesn’t explode. In the end, my time was 16:30. Thirty seconds faster than my PR but one minute and forty seconds behind the leader. Got an instant email about the results and then went home, which was a nice touch by the organizers of the SDSR.
Saturday morning I woke up to the rain hitting my window. On a normal day, it would have been a nice day to stay home because there’s nothing else I hate more than racing in the rain. It made me rethink all my possible strategies for the race ahead. Without much thought, I prepared myself for the worst. When I arrived at the course, I was able to observe some races going on. It seemed like half the people were wearing warmers and rain jackets. Not really knowing how to dress for a race like this, I did the same. Even wrapped my shoes in a plastic bag underneath the booties to prevent water seeping in. Then I remembered I have a huge problem overheating, so I abandoned the rain jacket. Everyone else on the team had their own way of staying warm. Anyways, we roll up to the start line and I was freezing. The rest of the cat 3 field looked like they came well prepared. The race started and immediately I worked my way up the field to hold position up front. Getting to the front was important because crashing in the rain was not on my agenda. Erick Sobey and Jeffrey Tuttle were with me the whole time which was reassuring. We made sure to stay in contact the entire race, this also helped keep us composed. The rain seemed to make things a bit mellow as racers took caution into the turns. Then I began to notice the rhythm of the race and got comfortable.
As we continue on the first lap it became difficult to see with my glasses. Without wanting to take my hands off the bars, I waited till after the KOM on the flat to take them off. Not a wise choice. Water running off tires kept on hitting my eyes. It really sucked but I managed. One thing that made it hard to deal with was that the plastic bag in my shoes did the opposite of its purpose. It held water in. My god, it made me want to quit on the second lap. But I stuck through it even as my leg warmers turned into leg coolers; it felt like nothing was going right. We continued on the first KOM and onto the third lap. People were tapping their brakes for no reason in certain sections. So I stayed up front. My frustration with the group finally hit its peak within the park’s rolling section. When we turned right towards the dam, I accelerated without getting off the saddle. No one followed. Then a rider from another team sprinted around me like he had a plan. So I followed his wheel. We’re only ten seconds off the front in the beginning of the climb and I dropped him without having to work too hard. Finding myself alone on the descent, I told myself to keep tempo, like as if it was a training ride. Holding my heart rate at around 180 bpm(a hard but very sustainable pace), the gap slowly grew. Each passing turn I look back to see how far the field was and my best guess was that they left me there to dry. There was no plan to do a solo breakaway so I made short term goals. Get the hot sprints for time bonuses and maybe some KOMs. Sometime later, and still no reaction from the field, the gap soon grew to thirty seconds. I was now on the second hot sprint and the motor ref told me the field had been neutralized for the pros and the gap is more than a minute long. Shoot! Let’s keep this up. While still going for those hot sprints, my mind became focused on finishing alone. Without realization of what lap I was on, I call over the motor ref and ask him what lap I was on. He told me, “It’s the last lap, you got this. You’re more than two minutes from the field!” What the heck!? I thought. Okay, well I’m going to pick it up and finish this strong. The motor ref stayed with me the entire way and we even held a conversation going up the final climb. Making sure I don’t do anything stupid, I kept it slow down the descent. On the final flat, my mind starts racing of how damn hard I worked for this. Finally! Threw my hands up in the air for the first win of my life! It was the greatest feeling ever, especially for having my team there to support me.
The following day belongs to my teammate, Erick Sobey. He made sure to cover all the breaks and even took the WIN! Velo Club La Grange dominated!
And that’s how the San Dimas Stage Race was won.