by Charon Smith
This past Sunday was the Mothballs Crit in the beautiful city of Santa Barbara. This has to have been my most interesting day of racing in a while. The week leading into the race, I got hit very hard with the flu and I was in bed all week, not feeling normal until Saturday. After not being on the bike all week, I did a very light, 1.5 hour spin with my teammate Rob Kamppila and decided, ‘what the heck, I will race.’ My teammates needed me and I had a guy driving four hours just to do the race so I felt I should show. I did not tell the guys how sick I was because I did not want to bring any doubt or give anyone of our competitors an edge, especially racing with so many talented guys every week.
After arriving we had a total of five guys: me, John Slover, Ben Travis, Patrick Bos, and Rob Kamppila. I told the guys, “look I do not have any intensity in me. I have been in bed all week and off the bike, so I have no clue how my body is going to react. But I know I have one good sprint in me.” We decided we would stick to our motto of ‘have fun, race hard, and do what we do to support each other 110 percent.’
As the race got under way, the boys started attacking the field just to open their legs up and see who was willing to race aggressively. We knew MRI was short-handed and a few of their guys had just raced the day before but–like I said in the write up from last week–this is SoCal and talent is everywhere so the race did not disappoint as the field had 3 current national champions in it: Mike Easter and Rudy Napolitano from Time, and Matthew Carinio from ArtsCyclery.com.
When things started heating up, I told the guys, “look we just have to monitor Mike Easter and Rudy Napolitano, those are the two players from their team. MRI is short-handed and Helen’s did not bring a full crew so it’s up to us to control the race.” Eventually, a move of ten guys got up the road. Every team had a guy in it, but I did not like the mix for us so I told John, Ben, and Pat that we had to bring it back. Someone said, “but you have a guy in it” and I said, “it’s coming back. We are not letting a break roll with a sprinter like Mike Easter in it if we do not have two of our guys up there.”
The big motors from SCC/Sterling BMW went to the front and shut it down within a lap.
After that, we were looking at lap cards that were showing eight to go, which is a weird number for lap cards to start on. I was, like, ‘perfect,’ because my legs were feeling good even after not touching the bike for a whole week. Weird but true.
It is amazing what you can will the body to do. As we got down to three laps, I told the guys to go near the front. With one lap to go we took complete control and had our guys leading it out. I could see through my arms that I had Eric Anderson from SPY and Mike Easter from Time sitting on me heading into the sprint, so I began to yell in Rob’s ear as we are sprinting, “go harder!” Good thing he did because Eric Anderson from SPY jumped me early. That was fine because I kicked hard one or two times and went around him to lock in win number three for the team. I held Mike Easter to second and Eric Anderson rounded out the podium.
Never put limits on yourself and what the human body can do. The power of the mind is real and remember you are stronger than you think you are. Thanks to the wonderful promoters along with Echelon SB, Rock Solid Cycling, and everyone else involved for putting on a wonderful event year after year. Last, but not least, thanks again to Cycling Illustrated for the opportunity to share the race from my eyes.