The Rolling Stones once famously sang, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you might find you get what you need.” It’s a good line…as if Keith Richards and Mick Jagger needed my approval.
As I mentioned in my previous post, I drove to San Diego this weekend as an attempt to escape the miserable onslaught of rain destined for the Bay Area. For the first two days, Southern California lived up to all my expectations.
I awoke late each day, ate a hearty breakfast, drank my coffee slowly, and then went for beautiful rides surrounded by palm trees and sandy beaches.
However, I was haunted all the while by the prospect of racing a traditional SoCal criterium on Sunday afternoon: hot, fast, hectic and bunch-sprint-bound. If you recall, I even assembled a graphical depiction of the day’s likely outcome.
However, Jens Voigt must have breathed heavily somewhere in Europe (which he almost never does, mind you), setting off a butterfly effect-like cascade which culminated in a rather untimely monsoon in SoCal. I showed up at Sunday’s crit east of LA just in time for the heavy rains and strong winds to take full effect.
I strolled up to registration, keenly aware how much I missed seeing Big Rick of Velopromo and his jolly beard. I then waited anxiously (and remarkably silently, for me) in line behind about nine Hagens-Berman riders who showed up rather unexpectedly. Their team is based in Seattle, but perhaps they caught wind of the impending, damn-near biblical deluge and figured they’d fit in nicely.
The race started and I gleefully joined the melee at the front, in spite of the fact that I recognized no one around me and felt remarkably alone. The cold rain and harsh winds widened gaps between riders, and the brisk pace at the front felt comfortingly uncomfortable: a breakaway was imminent.
Sure enough, about fifteen minutes into the event, “shit got real,” and a break of eleven riders clawed its way off the front. That was encouraging, of course, but we still had an hour of racing to go and our gap was narrower than Max Jenkins’ biceps.
The four Hagens-Berman riders in the break seemed “CalGiant-confident” that they would be able to control the finale and rode accordingly, while the two SoCalCycling.com riders in the move seemed awfully jumpy and spastic. Meanwhile, the large, looming figure of Chris DeMarchi (Pista Palace) moved smoothly around the group, conserving energy and looking generally intimidating. The most consistent pulls were being taken by Jamis-Sutter Home pro Eric Schlidge, but he didn’t seem too anxious to make bold moves out of the break.
Finally, after an eternity of drinking grimy water flung from each other’s back wheel, the bell was rung for the final lap and the race began in earnest.
With 1 km remaining and a lone Hagens-Berman rider dangling about three seconds off the front, I attacked. I metered my efforts for a few seconds to allay the watchful riders behind me, then went full-gas, straight past the solo dangler. I channeled my inner Dave McCook and pushed my tire adhesion to the limit around the final two corners, then drove to the line in the biggest gear I had.
Miracles happen, ladies and gentlemen…never stop dreaming. In keeping with the theme of practically see-through, wet, animated .gif images, I present to you my first (and likely only) win of 2011.
(Photo credits: Kenneth Hill)
Let’s bring this back to the Rolling Stones.
Did I want to race in driving rain for 75 minutes? No. Did I want to have sagging jersey-wattle hanging from my underarms during my victory salute? No. Did I want to have my first win of 2011 come in a distant suburb of Los Angeles? No.
But I tried hard and I got what I needed: a win.