As a racer there are some races that you look forward to because you know that the course is going to be good to you. Along with a positive attitude, course knowledge, and getting ready for Nationals, I felt like I was going to have a great day at the Ladera Ranch GP.
With the temperature in the three digit mark, it was going to be a race of attrition. That’s funny to say when the race is only 50 minutes, but the heat is still a huge factor. Right from the whistle the pace was fast and you could tell that people had a plan to make it hard. I was very attentive to the game changers in the race and wanted to sit around the top ten in hopes a move would go off the front without me burning any matches.
About five laps into the race it was wheel to wheel with Michael Johnson (Breakaway from Cancer) driving the pace through the start/finish and around turn one. While I was sitting about fifth wheel coming out of turn one, I heard the awful sound of carbon breaking and metal grinding. Next thing I knew the field had split and we were 12 strong in a group.
For about five to seven laps the pace of the breakaway stayed strong, but was still not established. Behind us, the group was chasing hard and our breakaway was too big. It seemed that all the players where in the move; Johnson, Rudy Napolitano, Charon Smith (Surf City Cyclery), Chris Spence (Team Kaos Cycling), Oliver Hutchinson (Helen’s), plus my Monster Media/MRI teammates, Jaime Paolinetti, Randall Coxworth, Elan Walshe, Phil Tintsman, and Jon Abate. Everyone was going hard, but not hard enough to make a difference.
I heard Ralph, the race announcer say, “39 minutes to go!” and knew that If I poured my water bottle on me and cooled off my core I could go for it on a counter move and break the group apart. Coxworth went to the front and picked up the pace. Napolitano made a good effort off that and when he sat up I rolled off the front solo. About a half lap later I heard Jaime yelling for me. To my delight and surprise he was coming across to me. I soft pedaled for a brief second and when he latched on we took off. At that point I knew we would have some serious chasers, but my teammates would at least be sitting on and getting a free ride.
When Jaime and I ride flat-out together, we ride as one. We know each other well and trust each other to leave it all out there. At that point, we knew if we measured our efforts in the heat we would be victorious. Jaime and I held them off and turned around to see Phil Tintsman take third place. It’s a great day when you can win a race. It’s even better when your team sweeps the podium.