Ethan Milius (11th)
Jorge Palamara (10th)
Richard Kim (2nd)
(sorry if I missed anyone)
First off I want to say how refreshing it is to see so many strong Cat 4 racers. I have no doubt that we’ll have several Cat 3 reinforcements by late summer.
Last year my transition from track sprinting to road sprinting felt complete. Instead of sitting in the back of a Cat 3 or Masters pack, I was fit enough to be active in races and work for my Cat 3 teammates. What I’ve lost in speed, I’ve replaced in strength. Being a 3/4 race on a familiar course, I was aiming for no less than a win today.
I expected my former track sprint partners Tony and James Zaldua and top ranked SoCal Cup Cat 3 David Perez to be the danger men in a field sprint. I was feeling strong and rode at the front for the first half of the race covering attacks and getting into a short lived 3-man break. Given the brutal headwind on the front straight, I realized the odds of a break were nil and drifted back into the pack to save the legs for the endgame.
Looked like Ethan H. and Bryan were active in the front pulling back a strong solo break. Moving up with a couple laps to go I was looking to tow up John and Quinn but they were blocked inside. I got behind Jorge who is super strong but things began to bunch up on the final lap as no one wanted to lead out into the head wind. This is how crashes happen and sure enough a sketchy rider went down on the back straight taking out several riders and unfortunately Stuart was one of them. At some point I saw Ethan M., yelled out to him and was hoping he would get on my wheel as he’s a good sprinter in his own right.
I stayed out of harms way and was able to react to the final surge, jumping on Tony Z’s wheel, six back, going into turn 3, licking my chops and getting ready to pull out my Nichols victory pistolero, but the other riders in front could not stay with James Z’s surge thru the turns and he had a huge gap out of the final turn. I churned the pedals into the headwind in slow motion at what felt like 40 rpm and closed in on him but ran out of real estate. Kudos to him for making the decisive move on a single speed! His decision to run a 91” gear proved to be brilliant. Can’t be unhappy to lose to a friend.
Thanks to Joe Camacho for providing a team vehicle rendezvous and John and Diana Velez for giving my tired legs a lift home. With all our guys, my friends on LA Velocity, the Z bros and a several others, it felt like half the pack were friends and that made this race esp. fun.