Red Trolley Classic 35+
by Eric Anderson
Sunday was my first race on the Red Trolley course in San Diego. Too far away to recon, it was time to put Mothballs behind and start researching what I would find the yin to Mothballs’ yang. The best place to start in the South Bay is to get advice from local cycling icon Greg Leibert. I’m not sharing all the tidbits I gleaned from G$, but the moral of the message was, “it will end in a break. Be in it.” The next best place to go is everyone’s favorite social networking guilty pleasure, Facebook.
January 31st, the first post on FB goes up. Chris DeMarchi warns everyone to watch out; MMRI was going to blow the doors off Red Trolley from the whistle. February 1st, Charon follows up with a post that he won’t be racing Sunday. Lastly, Erik Johnson and I had a texting strategy session as he fills me in on his home course. SPY-GIANT-RIDE would line up nine riders for the 35+ race and we were all on the same page; there would be no worrying about the bunch sprint. The course, the teams, and the breeze all pointed in the direction of a break. We wouldn’t initiate–MMRI would take care of that–but we would bury ourselves to make sure we were represented with at least one (if not more) riders in the break.
The course did not disappoint. The swinging downhill sweeper speeds riders out of turn three and into turn four, depositing them on a steep kicker before plateauing for the finishing stretch. Each lap was only 30 feet of climbing but, with 30 laps in 50 minutes, each time out of the saddle and up the hill deepened the grimace embedded on everyone’s face.
The Cliff Notes’ version of the first 40 minutes of the race can be summarized as, “attack, counter-attack, attack, counter-attack, go to the front, recover mid-pack, go to the front, recover mid-pack, rinse, repeat.” You get the idea. Nothing stayed out for very long, but most moves were potential threats. The SPY-GIANT-RIDE team perfectly executed our plan. Each rider dug deep on the point, reeled in breaks, bridged gaps, and ultimately got us to the lap cards–not with riders in the break, but with the peloton amazingly intact.
At that point, the group could have settled down and accepted the inevitable bunch sprint. Not MMRI. Not at Red Trolley. As the lap cards were flipping from 3 to 2, two MMRI guys jumped on the pedals at the top of the climb. Sitting a few wheels back, I saw Aaron Wimberley from Helen’s react and chase. Thinking that he was making a big, risky move as a sprinter, I knew I had to chase too. I did for half a lap until we all came back together again. No short-term alliances were made that day and there was little working together between teams. As we made the penultimate trek up the kicker, Chris DeMarchi went off the front and in return the pack ramped up to a breakneck pace for the final lap.
Entering turn three I found myself in a good position, although not with a teammate. I was on Aaron’s wheel. I know that place well from countless mock sprints on the NPR. His three Helen’s teammates swung up the inside and, expecting him to accept his position in line, I waited to follow along. But he decided to stay in line and ultimately we are able to carry more speed through the final corner and up the hill. Sitting tenth wheel and hitting the midpoint of the hill on the final lap, I knew it was time to separate from the saddle and that my seat and I wouldn’t be reunited until after the finish line because it’s a long way to go. I tried to stay tight to the wheels ahead and stay out of the wind as much as possible. My legs felt surprisingly fresh. I moved up several spots and by the time we had flattened out I could see only daylight and green in front. Danny Kam and Phil Tinstman had a gap on the field. Digging deep, I made up ground but wouldn’t climb any higher than third on the podium.
Congrats to Danny and Phil! Thanks to Danny Munson for capturing the moment. Congrats to Aron Gadhia, Kelsey Mullen, and Erik Johnson, who finished 7th, 11th, and 12th for SPY-GIANT-RIDE. A huge “thank you” to all of our teammates for the sacrifice each of you made to give us a shot in the end.
Be Happy. Be Irreverent. Be Progressive.