Mothballs Criterium: 35+ 1-4
by Eric Anderson(SPY-GIANT-RIDE)
It’s HIP to be RIDE’ing against GIANTS for SPY. After a thorough beat-down at the Poor College Kids road race on Saturday, I was champing at the bit to get some redemption at the pancake-flat Mothballs Criterium course. With a 2pm start time for the 35+ race, there was going to be plenty of time to stretch out tired legs and relieve nervous energy. Fortunately, the day ended up flying by as we watched teammates Aron Gadhia win the 45+ and Josh Alverson hold onto a 7-lap solo break for the Cat 3 win.
Prior to the race, we put together a plan where Ryan Dahl, Josh, and Dave McNeal would react to attacks and make sure we had a presence if a break looked like it could stick. Mike Williams would shepherd me around the course, safe and out of the wind. Erik Johnson and Chris Thompson would ride up front then push the pace with a leadout if we had to battle in the sprint against the numerous stars and stripes jerseys and SoCal’s dominant sprinter, Charon Smith.
The wind eased its howling as the whistle blew and the attacks wasted no time in coming. The team rode as planned and effectively covered breaks one after another. They seemed to come quickly and repeatedly, but were rarely sustained on the blisteringly fast Mothballs course. Seemingly with eyes in the back of his head, Mike always knew where I was and did as promised keeping me effectively guarded. If this is how our first race of the year went, I believe it can only get better.
Around the half-way point and after several attacks and counter-attacks a group of four got away. Surf City was in the break and looked like they were starting to work to let it go. Josh, Dave, and Ryan had continuously been at the front up until then. Being afraid the break might stick and with no team presence, I decided to get on the point and pull the pack to the break. Halfway down the front stretch I found myself in no-man’s land, I had created a gap but still had a ways to go, it was now-or-never time. Digging deep, I pulled around turn one and onto the back of the ‘D’ shaped course, finally making contact with the group.
I was hoping a big move didn’t come right away, as I was focused on recovery, when out of the corner of my eye Erik Johnson pulled up beside me. He had bridged as well and we quickly went from zero out of four to two out of six in the break. Unfortunately, we were not the key ingredients to the secret break sauce that was going to stick. Within a lap or so we were gobbled up by the pack. It was starting to look like this was going to come down to a sprint.
A week earlier I had shied away from my teammate’s lead and was left swirling in the melee on Charon’s wheel. I wouldn’t make that mistake again. We would be the aggressors. With two laps to go, I was again on Mike’s wheel and positioned about 10th. Suddenly, I lost position in turn one and quickly found myself 30 deep. A controlled panic ensued. I had to move forward and I had to find friendly wheels. Meanwhile the team had moved up and was positioning for the sprint. By the time we were lining up for the final turn on the last lap, I had found daylight and teammates. Chris Thompson, appearing seemingly out of nowhere, and Erik Johnson were both pushing the pace as planned. Coming out of the kink on the front stretch, I kicked passed Erik’s lead and moved to the front of the pack where only distance and wind remained. As I neared the line the wheels starting coming off and I saw Charon come by on the left, I tried to siphon a little more gas from the tank, but only managed to wobble offline until I saw stars and stripes in my periphery. It was Michael Easter, reigning 35+ national criterium champion grabbing second at the line and I would hold on for the first podium of the year for our team in the 35+.
Congrats to Charon and Mike, and a giant thank you to all my teammates. I couldn’t have done this without the dedicated efforts from each of you. As a team, we still have work to due to earn respect and reach our goals in the 35+ category, but this was a nice podium step in the right direction. Be Happy. Be Irreverent Be Progressive. SPY-GIANT-RIDE