Brentwood Grand Prix, Southern CA Criterium Championship, Mens CAT 4
August 4, 2013
Who Raced: Michael Relth, Robert Efthimos, Tim Petrvalsky, Jaycee Cary, James Brill, and myself Marco Fabrizio
I’m going to start this off with a request for forgiveness due to the fact that I’m sure this will contain some profanity, so please forgive me. Earmuffs for the juniors!
Also it’s a bit lengthy…
As many of you know the Brentwood Grand Prix is likely the hardest crit of the year. Personally I think it’s the best race of the year. It’s technical, fast, and the crowds are amazing. Oh, and did I mention we had a beer garden? Yep! Thanks Michelob Ultra! That’s not to mention that it’s going to be televised and we had an insane swing cam in turn one, which I didnt notice till hours after the race because well, turn one is a little bit of a doozy! Even the guy on the outside tries to apex F%$!*#$@&!!!!
This race has been my baby since before I even started racing. In my pre cat 5 days, I randomly rode into this chaos they called the BWGP and I was truly amazed that we had this enormous gathering right in our backyard. I had already given some thought to racing, but this was it. This was the race that I wanted to aim for.
This year was the third time that I lined up on San Vicente. This time I had only one goal in mind, WIN! I had full support from my team and I had been meticulously prepared for this. Let’s just say every other race this year was just a dry run for the BWGP. I wanted this. I wanted this badly! I was going to stop at nothing, and as you read along you’ll understand….
As always I arrived nice and early with my friend and training partner James Brill whom I must emphasize was the brains behind the operation. This could not have happened without him. We both seemed to be pretty calm and relaxed even though we talked and stressed about this morning for probably 6 weeks. So we meet up with team captain and comrade Jaycee under the beautifully set up Castelli Tents. Which I must admit really makes anyone feel PRO. The rest of the team trickled in, and we began warming up while watching the other races from our prime location. After a very short and brief team meeting we were ready to race.
The race set off, and it was fast from the gun. Everyone likes a fast and smooth race, but I think that’s only in retrospect because while this suffer fest was going on I couldn’t help but wonder why the hell I put myself through this (a pretty normal thought.) The race was fast! the first few laps were pretty strung out, and James and I had a little bit of trouble making our way into the top 20 (part of the team plan) But kudos to Jaycee, he was the mofo pulling his ass off in the front the entire race. Although like I previously mentioned riders were taking the corners like LA drivers who think they own the road. We stayed cautious…. But not cautious enough. After a few sketchy corners and having to bunny hop a stray bottle on the back stretch I thought that would be my bad luck of the day. It wasn’t the end of it… With 5 laps to go on the finishing stretch I think someone decided to wave to their mom or girlfriend because some guy lost focus about 20 wheels from the front and grabbed a handful of brakes and the entire peloton came crashing up his ass. I think 30-40 guys piled up behind him. James and I included.
I don’t remember hitting the ground, but I do remember getting up faster than I hit the ground and ripping some guy’s cleat out of my front spokes and telling him I had shit to do! I hopped back on my bike cyclocross style and within two seconds realized I had forgotten to asses the damage. “#@#!” I yelled! But in my mind this whole time I’m thinking, “NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! THIS IS NOT HOW MY SEASON IS ENDING, NOT WITH A STUPID CRASH FOR NO #$%&ING REASON! NO! JUST NO!” Got off the bike and realized my rear derailleur looked like it had been kicked in and my chain was dangling off. Not the normal way a chain looks when it comes off, this was like untangling a bunch of wires from you old cellphone junk drawer. After what felt like 20 mins I finally got the chain untangled and rotated the pedals, clicked through a couple gears made sure I had a couple of gears to work with. I did! Cyclocross style re-mount and I was off.
My only rationalization at this point was that I would be racing just to finish, and not let the crash DNF (did not finish) me! But wait! As I start riding who do I see? Our very own Chad Moston who’d been warming up for his cat 3 race. He’s yelling at me, “TAKE THE FREE LAP! TAKE THE FREE LAP”! Light bulb! I forgot I could take a free lap for a mechanical malfunction. I frantically made my way to the pits and checked in with the referee. While waiting to get back into the race I spot the beastly James Chao and ask him to throw me his water bottle because I thought I dropped mine, he lobs me the touchdown pass over about 5 heads, I make a spectacular catch then realize I did in deed still have my bottle… So I threw him back his bottle just in time. The referee sends us off into the race, and the dozen or so riders who were able to pit were let back into the race. I merge onto the back end of the speeding peloton, hammered my way into the top 5 by the 1st corner where my teammates Robert and Jaycee had been hanging out bashing a nice tempo (which they did for the remainder of the 3 laps). But now I’m nice and tired from sprinting 500 meters. I fade back into the top 20 by the time we are on the back straight. Well well well what do we have here? Another crash just to the back and left of me. “Fuck this!” back to the front I went, and that’s where I stayed for the following laps. I pull up to Robert after Jaycee pulled off from his monstrous pull and tell him we would do a dry run of the final 3 corners as fast as our tires could handle in preparation for the final lap. Because at this point all I’m thinking is, “I already crashed, the only thing left is to win”.
FINAL LAP!!! We got through the Start/Finish with Jaycee at the helm just smashing it. By the time we get to the back stretch where Robert and I were just toying with the peloton we were all shuffling for position to go through those final corners. I slot in about 6 wheels back. I thought that was a little too far back because I had intended on going through that turn in 3rd wheel. Robert is 4th wheel. We go through the last corner, come back up onto San Vicente and I see the back end of the peleton just going into the 3rd to last turn, so I know we are flying. We get into the final straight and all I’m waiting for is to see the big green “Brentwood Grand Prix” banner. I see it! I wait just a couple more split seconds and dart for the far right barrier. The next thing I remember is all in slow motion. I pass everyone, one by one, by one. I thought it was going to be a photo finish, but by the time I passed who had been the first racer on the road, I realized I had jumped so perfectly that I had them all beat.
Crossed the line and threw my tightly clenched fists in the air, and just let out a ROAR! A roar that was built up inside me for 365 days since I first started training for this moment. I screamed so loud I almost passed out. I was resilient, I didn’t give up, and with a little bit of bad luck that was sprinkled by some good luck I came out victorious.
That morning just before the race my status update posted on Facebook was, “History is written by the victors”.
Feels good to be in Victor’s shoes.
I want to truly thank all my teammates! This year has been amazing! Having my back on this one really meant a lot to me.
Below is Robert’s video which will give you a little piece of the action.
James Brill, what can I say homie. This season couldn’t have happened without you.
Thanks for your time people.