By Charon Smith (Surf City Cyclery)
On Sunday, July 7th, we raced the 52nd annual MBGP! Surf City Cyclery/Sterling BMW attempted something very unique by trying to win Dana Point GP, State Crit title, and Manhattan Beach GP in two consecutive years. I believe this has never been accomplished. We won DPGP and States, last on the list was MBGP!
Leading into the race, all of the racers wanted to do well, or have one of their teammates shine on this beautiful day in Manhattan Beach. The race course was shaped like a hot dog with a rise on the front side as well as the backside with the wind blowing south off the ocean, which sat within walking distance. Some racers shy away from this course because it can be risky and very painful if you go down, but hey, this is bike racing, we are built like gladiators; only difference is we wear tights with very little protection.
Our team plan, which I led, was simple; the goal was to race aggressively, establish a break and stack the move with some of our hammer heads. We had a few options on the move; the plan was to send two or three guys. We tried early on to establish a move, to feel the field out and to see who was willing to join us in taking on this hot dog-shaped coursed. The field was fresh and eager so nothing was established, but that did not stop our mad man John Wike. He kept attacking, and sure enough, the rubber band snapped; our guy Pat Bos, aka “Double Nickle”, made the split with Wike. Pat was peaking at the right time for us. It was a break of eight or so guys, including a SPY rider, as well Felt Audi rider Travis Wilkerson; riding a break is his thing. Of course MRI made the move with one of their many studs, Chris Demarchi. I believe Derek Brauch from Helen’s was in the split, and he has been rolling strong these days as well. I was thinking ‘awesome that is a solid selection’, and Wike had a great shot at closing as he has a wicked finish; the harder the race the better he rides. I was told a few guys were telling him to ease up in the break, meaning he was hurting guys in the move; perfect that is his job. I thought Time had a guy in the move, but I was told they missed the split, so they were forced to chase along with a few others who missed the move. MRI began setting up for a sprint finish by lining up their train, which meant it was time to get on board for the ride.
As the break was coming back with 5 or 6 laps to go, of course things got a little hairy. It is normal in crit racing, but the crazier it gets, the calmer I become. Free tip: the more excited or nervous you become, the more energy you burn. In bike racing, the racer who can save the most energy will win or place very high if he or she is in position. So as the fireworks were popping, I was just monitoring. We were close to bringing the move back, which was still up the road, and as we caught them with one or two laps to go, bam, Wike, who has a never-give-up attitude hit again. I thought, ‘sweet’, while smiling because this forced the other teams to chase. If no one reacted I knew he would hold it, I saw him do it at Barry Wolf this year, and a few years ago at the circuit race formerly held in San Pedro. Wike gets the tough man award in my eyes.
Once Wike was reeled in we were heading into the final few turns; this crazy guy dug even deeper, and slotted in 3rd wheel. He was on Ivan Dominguez I believe, I was on Mike Easter’s wheel, and Kayle LeoGrande was trying to take it from me just before the final two turns. So much happens on the backside of races and it is often missed by the viewers standing at the finish line; I was able to hold it. Kudos to Kayle for the effort. Hey, you must try first, because I would do the same! Seriously, it is pure organized confusion at the end of a bike race. Heading into the final turn, I came out 5th wheel, not the greatest position, but that was the card I was dealt; I had proven riders ahead of me, so I thought all was well. The current Master Crit Champ came out of his saddle and began to wind up. Of course I followed suit, but his chain snapped, and as his bike was hopping from left to right I was forced to pause for a moment to see which way to go. Finally I made it around Easter on the left side. I saw Wike and Ivan ahead of me, so I kicked and kicked again to go by both of them when I noticed another guy ahead of Ivan. I never saw him as he was tucked on the inside of the fence in front of Ivan. I was thinking, ‘where did he come from?’. I shifted down a gear as it was my last effort to catch him, but I ran out of real estate and he held on for the win. I am certain, if not for the mishap on Easter’s bike, I would have closed; it is not easy stopping your momentum within 200 meters from the line. I am very pleased with my result; it is bike racing and sometimes you never know, that’s why we line up week after week! Awesome job on making the podium Ivan Dominquez, and huge congrats to Silver Lazzari in closing the deal. You never know, in SoCal each week is a adventure.
To all the racers who took part in the MBGP awesome job! Feel proud regardless of your result. Keep putting in the time and effort! Huge thank you to South Bay Wheelmen for putting on a top notch race for 52 years straight, I am certain this is no easy feat, please keep it going we need races like this!!
Thank you again for allowing me to share my story Cycling Illustrated!!
To all of our sponsors thank you for supporting us at Surf City Cyclery and allowing us to be ambassadors for you, we do not take what each of you do for us lightly. Surf City Cyclery, Sterling BMW, Panache clothing, Morey and Upton LLC, Atheltic Recon, Cytomax, Muscle Milk, Supacaz, SRAM, Specialized Bikes, Play Again Now, IRT Wheels, Studio Concepts, PWC Pharmaceutical and Life Sciences Advisory, Villa Real Estate, Eat Chow, GU, Health Pro Wellness Center, McLaren of Newport Beach, Oakley, Shafer Massage, Vittoria Tires, Damon Fit, Empower Coaching, and FOX Clothing.