Rosena Ranch: The Race
by Charon Smith (SCC/Sterling BMW)
On Saturday Ben Travis, Kirk Bausch, and Rob Kamppila, and I went out to do a challenging circuit race in Rosena Ranch. It sat on a 3-mile course, with a 2-5% climb per lap. The wind usually blows in off the freeway, which leaves little room for shelter in the field, but on this day the we were spared as the wind wasn’t blowing as hard as last year.
As I arrived, I took a count of who had numbers and who was at the race. I saw those Helen’s boys with a team of 8 or so. MRI had a full squad of 10 or so guys, which I was not surprised by because, after all, this was their backyard. I saw the always-strong Rudy from Time Velo roll around and knew we had to watch him as well, although he was racing without many teammates. One of my former teammates, the strong man Travis Wilkerson was there with his sprinter Super Dave Koesel and many others. I was like, ‘okay, we will have some fun. The course is challenging and there are a number of studs here.’
As we lined up, the officials give their spiel about the rules and the centerline, which we all heard and were aware of. The whistle blew and off we went. The first lap started off moderately, with guys just feeling each other out.
I told my guys, “let’s monitor and surf wheels. Rob and Ben, if you can get in a move go in pairs I will cover any counter attacks.”
BAM. A move went up the road I saw captain KB in it. I was like, ‘cool,’ but the right combo did not form. Later, Rob got in a 3 or 4 man move which, I was happy with as Rob has been riding very strong all year. I guess Chris DeMarchi was not happy with his team’s odds in that move, as he launched very hard. Little did he know, I was watching him so I pounced very quickly and allowed him to pull me and the rest of the field back up to his guy. He looked at me to pull through, which was not going to happen with the numbers MRI brought to the party.
I love when strong guys like to show how strong they are. Thanks for the pull, Chris. It did make me suffer a little.
The pace slowed as with two laps to go and I felt like nothing was going to get away so late in the race. Wrong. A move of 10-12 (maybe more, when a group is that large it is hard to make out) got a 5-10 second gap, which didn’t worry me. As we were heading into the last turnaround, the gap was still the same. Ben Travis and Special K hit it very hard after the turnaround, so naturally I got in line behind. I checked my shoulder to see who was on my wheel and, sure enough, Chris Demarchi was right there. As we got closer to closing the small gap, we realized KB was in the move. By then it was too late to shut the pace down.
We caught the breakaway group about 600-800meters from the line and all hell broke loose. I was on the inside when the pack swarmed to the right. To avoid being taken out, I quite naturally moved out of the way of the guy who would have crashed me if I had stayed put. As I moved over, I screamed, “hey, what are you doing?”
BAM. I crossed the yellow for maybe one or two seconds. It did not give me an edge or change the outcome for the final sprint, in my opinion. Immediately, I heard someone scream to the moto guy, “he is DQ’d! He crossed the yellow!” I raced on as I was certain the official saw why I crossed. I had nowhere else to go except to get caught up in a pile up. I am not crashing for a yellow line that made no difference. There were no cars on the course and it pretty much separated one half of the course from the other, which was quite a distance, by the way.
Chris Demarchi popped off my wheel at about 150-200 meters from the line. My instinct kicked in and I naturally got on his wheel as he was drilling it with all he had to make it up the uphill finish. I waited to the last moment, letting him think he can sprint for a second, and, at about 25-30 meters from the line, I went around him to seal the deal for win number 5.
After the win, Chris told me, “great sprint.” And then I noticed he went to the tent where the race refs were at. I followed him as he went to tell the refs that I crossed the yellow. I was like, “are you serious? I was pushed over and he knows it. He was behind me as it was happening!”
I was upset because the guys saw what happened; even Sang Vu from Tru cycling who came into my line told the refs. Thanks for being honest, Sang. However, I don’t dwell on the past too long and once I received numerous calls and messages and the winning photo, that made my day. No matter what Sang and I said, the refs said, “you are still DQ’d,” while the moto guy who wrote down my number is eating a cheeseburger in front of me after I just finishing racing hard.
I should have taken his burger.
Rules are rules. I accept it. CI, thanks again for allowing me to share my story, and big ups to all the riders who showed up and gave their all. Be proud of your effort. Until the next one, be blessed.