I Won! I Won! I Don’t Have to Go to School Anymore!

I have a thesis committee meeting tomorrow, so I’m putting together slides that demonstrate the value of my research. It’s important stuff, but it’s difficult to focus on making tables of data when the sunset is so beautiful.

It’s also difficult to focus on data tables when you’re blogging, so I’ll make this quick.

I raced the Land Park Criterium on Sunday afternoon, and to make a long story short, I won. The full race report can be found on my Race Reports page, in case you’re interested in how it played out. Now, I was hoping that someone had captured my victory on camera, but it seems as if every photographer at the race left before the P/1/2 event started. In the absence of a real picture, I’ve manufactured one. This is kind of what it looked like, I think.

I’ll replace that when a real photo surfaces. [That’s actually Chris Stasny winning the 2009 Cal Aggie Crit.]

I was under a lot of pressure to perform on Sunday, both from myself and others. I’ve had a bit of success on the Land Park course in the past, but one of the greatest heartbreaks of my cycling career took place there as well; it’s a very emotional location for me, and for that reason, I wanted to have a good race at Land Park this weekend.

To make matters worse, my teammate Justin looked at me on Saturday afternoon and said, “Dude, just f*&king win this thing tomorrow, OK?” I wish it was that simple. On Sunday morning, I received a text message from my friend Elis that said something like, “I’m sticking around to watch your race, so you better put on a good show and make it worth my time.” Finally, my teammate Evan brought his girlfriend to the race–her first bike racing experience ever–and the last thing I wanted to do was to have the team suck. That would not leave a good first impression.

Thankfully, we did not suck. Though only four Webcor riders showed up, we all worked hard and covered the race well. I was fortunate enough to make the winning break, and even more fortunate to win. I’d thank my teammates and my supporters if I could, but really I owe the victory to one Ritz cracker.

About three minutes before the race, I bummed a Ritz cracker from Evan’s lady friend. As I scarfed down the dry wafer, I told her, “If I win today, it’s because of this cracker.” Well…I won, and it’s time to give credit where credit is due. Thanks, Ritz.

Crackers aside, some other people need some recognition. My teammates Joel, Tim and Evan helped keep the pack at bay while our four-man break slithered off the front, and I’m forever indebted to them for working for me. I also have to mention my breakmate Max Polin, who crashed earlier in the race, then instigated the winning move and took some ridiculously strong pulls all the way to the finish. Joe Iannarelli, one of Clif Bar’s best riders, was also a rock star in the breakaway and nearly stole the win by jumping early out of the final corner. Finally, Pete Knudsen deserves some serious respect for his commitment; he buried himself to make sure the move stayed away. It was good racing with you guys.

As you might have heard, Chad Gerlach took a gnarly digger during the race, and it sounds like he’s pretty messed up. I hope he’s not off the bike long; if you see him, tell him I wish him a speedy recovery. That guy’s such a hardman, I bet he’s riding his bike already, in spite of a broken collarbone and a collapsed lung.

Anyway, I felt great on Sunday, and it hasn’t escaped me that training like a real bike racer might be important…but getting science done is even more important at the moment. Back to work!

P. S. The title of this post is a quote from Eddy Merckx himself, after he won his first bike race. If only it applied to my current situation.

5 responses to “I Won! I Won! I Don’t Have to Go to School Anymore!

  1. Congrats on the win old bean! You should eat more Ritz.

    • Thanks a lot! I had to look up the colloquialism “old bean,” just in case you were calling me names. Seems friendly enough! Anyway, I’m waiting for Ritz to come through with some sponsorship…

  2. Sorry my geographic vernacular was not up to par. I will have to try harder next time.

  3. Who is the source of the quote, “I won, I won, I don’t have to go to school anymore?

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