Words by: Gretchen Stumhofer (SPY Giant RIDE p/b GQ6)
Last Thursday I took Step 1, the first of three licensing exams taken during medical school. It’s a right of passage in medicine and it covers an unimaginable amount of material. To say the least, the last few months have been epically challenging off of the bike (thank goodness I had my bike to keep me sane). So, on Friday after finishing my exam I went down to the Velodrome to hang out with friends, celebrate being done, and do some Friday night racing—because what better way to prepare for a weekend of more races?
Saturday morning was rough but thankfully the Women’s P1/2/3 race at the 19th Annual Barrio Logan Grand Prix wasn’t until the afternoon. I’d never done this race before and didn’t know much about it other than that it’s right next to one of the coolest places in all of San Diego, Chicano Park (check it out if you haven’t been). After a short warm-up, some course recon with teammates, and a quick team meeting, the race was underway. Following an early prime, a break with teammate Pam and two of the Monster Media ladies went off. When a couple of others went to chase down the break I followed. Shortly after, teammates Jenny and Angelica, bridged with another group. On the next lap another prime was called. Rounding the last corner near the front I decided to go for it. I took the prime and when I looked back saw that no one was particularly close. I decided to go. It was certainly a risk riding off the front and attempting to hold it for 25 minutes but I felt confident knowing that I had all of my teammates working for me. The next few laps were painful, but from my experience as a rower it’s the kind of lactate threshold workout I know and love. I was able to hold the solo break, lap the field on the final straightaway, and take the win in this awesome hometown race! Super big thanks to the Cat 3/4 men for donating some of their winnings and SPY for putting in a little extra cash and making efforts towards equal payouts and equality in cycling—these kind of gestures are what make me proud to be part of this cycling community.
On Sunday morning instead of driving south, it was north to the Dana Point Grand Prix. This race is really well put on, supports a great cause, and is in one of the coolest beach communities in Southern California. But it also comes with all of the intimidation factors: it’s fast, it’s known for its crashes, and this year it was an NCC race with $12,000 in prizes. Some of the big teams with the big-time crit racers from all around the country and even a couple of international Olympians turned out. As my first NCC race, and with very little crit experience outside of collegiate races in small fields, my main goal was just to stay upright and off the cement. To me it seems like the best way to achieve this goal is to ride near the front at all times–sometimes easier said than done, but the backside of this course had some good spots to work your way back up though the washing machine. Staying near the front, I tried to follow anything that looked like a break. Nothing was sticking though, and it became pretty obvious that the race was going to come down to a field sprint. By 2 laps to go I was feeling pretty comfortable and sitting 3rd wheel. In the last lap things got a little more hectic. It did my best to maintain my position, and though I was able to stay within the front 10 I did lose a little more speed than I would have liked in the final corner. In the end I sprinted into 6th. More than stoked about this result and to be in the top 10 at a race like this! Pam came in right after in 9th and Jen not far behind in 18th.
All in all it was another great weekend for the SPY women’s team, a team I feel incredibly lucky to be part of. Being pretty new to racing, I’ve had the opportunity to learn so much from my teammates, each of whom with their own distinct strengths and who collectively have shared an invaluable wealth of knowledge and experience with me this year. Did I mention that every single member of our team has been on a podium this season too? Yup, my team is awesome!
Gretchen Stumhofer lives in San Diego, CA.