The 2012 road cycling season is in it’s twilight and consequently Team CashCall Mortgage fielded a team of only four riders for this weekends USAC SoCal Cup Crit at Dominguez Hills. Despite showing up short handed, myself, Devan Dunn, David Santos, and Lee Muse were determined to make our mark on this race. Bolstered by the news that teammate Stefano Barberi had just won his second stage of the two day Mt. Whitney Stage Race, we set our plan of attack and what we needed to do have a successful race.
Unfortunately prior to the start of the event there was a delay due to a major crash that happened in the previous race. Although longer and harder races tend to suit our team, we were all very grateful to see such lengths being taken to ensure that the crash victims were properly cared for. I know I can speak for the entire CashCall Mortgage team when I say that we wish the downed riders a speedy recover and hope that the hospital transport was purely precautionary.
The race started with a bang and from the gun three riders jumped off the front before we even got to the first turn. I turned to Santos and we looked at each other, sharing the same thought “those poor guys are in for a rough day”, but then two more riders attacked and now we had to be represented. I bridged across to the two chasers to make three riders chasing three riders, with the whole field enjoying coffee and crumpets behind (note: this is all before half-way through the first lap!).
It took some time for the break to establish itself and ultimately only three riders came together, myself, a Sho-Air rider, and a Ben Bertinger of Stage 17. All three of us were hard working, motivated guys, that wanted to put some distance between ourselves and the field. We got a big gap early, and our time splits were closer to the back of the field than the field to us. However, once the Monster Media team realized that their rider missed out on the break, they started chasing full on. From the sidelines all I can hear is Paul ‘The Godfather’ Abrahams telling me that I have to go ‘all-in’… I start thinking to myself, aren’t I already? Sweat is pouring off me (and has been since the first lap), my kit is totally soaked through, I can’t see out my glasses because they are splattered with road grime and sweat. But this guy is telling me “more…more…more!”
At this point I really start putting my back into the break and we were going fast, but the field was still coming even though it was splitting into smaller pods due to the strong wind on course and the speed at which they were chasing. The three of us in the breakaway now had a choice. Give up and say we ‘gave it the ol’ college try’ or hold on and hope for the best. We chose the later. A small group of 10 riders came across with none other than my two teammates Dunsky and Santos. I instantly knew we were in a good position tactically. I could see everyone was hurting when the group came to us making the break briefly 13 riders. Obviously these were the most committed and motivated riders in the field at that moment, each racer wanted a chance to win. But I wasn’t willing to let up…
Immediately I yelled to Devan, “sit or roll!?” Questioning him to trim the break again or take a moment to assess the situation. He looked at me stoically and said “ROLL!!” So I attacked again, this time my boy Santos was smelling blood too and he came with me. Now it’s the two of us up the road and the chase group is in full panic mode, anyone with good legs is sensing that the opportunity for the win is closing. One strong rider tried to bridge to us, but Santos and I buried ourselves, taking monster pulls for the next two laps. Santos was going so hard I was nearly dropped on one occasion because I tried to grab a sip of water from my bottle…no dice we have work to do, water will have to wait.
Santos and I started smashing ourselves, really going deep to put the nail in the coffin for the field and take a well deserved 1-2 result, but there was still fifteen minutes of racing ahead of us…so much can change in that amount of time!
Still pushing for all the speed we could muster we hit five laps to go. There still was no guarantee we would stay away with the group of 10 yo-yoing between 15-25 seconds behind us, so we fought-on. And let me say this now, David Santos is a beast! He was going so hard it very evident he was motivated to roll that break. He was riding like a CSX freight train that had four engines, no freight, and a caboose!
We hit three laps to go and ‘The Godfather’ says “you guys got it, but keep the pressure on”. But there was no slowing down! When it is me and Santos we roll to the line. We rode harder and eventually I could finally muster enough energy to shout to Santos “we are doing this Santos and BMc style, smash it all the way to the line!” His rebuttal was simple, “you are winning and you better salute!” My reply was simple… “yes sir.”
We crossed the line 1-2 and had enough time to look back to see Devan sprinting, yes I said that right, our TT beast is so hungry for results he is sprinting like a mad man all over the road to just miss out on 3rd place, he took 4th. Dave and I ‘high-fived’ each other and waited for Devan and Lee to catch up so we could celebrate our success.
This was a big result for me, not just because any win is important but particularly because recently I had to overcome the loss of my Grandmother, a woman who helped raise me and shape me into the man I am today. It is with the thoughts of her strength and grace as she faced her cancer that I was able to fight through the emotion and stress that came with this family loss.
It must also be said that good things come in threes, or so the saying goes. So I was able to win for my CashCall Mortgage team (#1), while my wife Joy won her race, her first ‘W’ in some time (#2), a well deserved win, and all of this on the last race of the season before we go on to celebrate our 1 year wedding anniversary next week (#3). Good things do come in threes!
In conclusion I must say that I have continually been humbled by the presence of my teammates and their support for me despite challenges. This team and specifically Paul Abrahams have believed in me since day one and I am so thankful for their support and friendship. I am proud to have won this race for our program and put forth the effort to repay so many that have believed in me.
Thank you to all of our wonderful sponsors and supporters, results like today are rare in this sport, but with so much positivity and passion surrounding our team it makes them more probable. To everyone that sponsors and supports CashCall Mortgage Cycling Team, thank you, you are greatly appreciated.
Until next time be safe, ride hard, and have fun,