2009 Suisun Criterium

Suisun Harbor Criterium
Suisun City, CA
Weather: Warm, windy
Teammates: James Badia, Rob MacNeill, Ryan Parnes, Bruce Wilford (?!), Billy Crane, Bo Hebenstreit
Placing: 1st of 60

Those of you who have met me will likely agree about two things: 1) I am extremely short, and 2) I am long-winded. Where am I going with this? Well, it turns out that the Suisun Harbor Criterium and I have a lot in common.

This criterium course is most likely the shortest of the entire year, about a half-mile in length, and the narrow, tight streets are always buffeted by a strong Central Valley wind*.

After spending all of Saturday exposed to the wind, heat, and hyponatremia of Dunnigan Hills, I was not mentally prepared for another day of punishment; however, there seems to be a severe disconnection between my mind and my mouth.

“Whatcha thinkin’ boy?” asked Ryan Parnes, as we donned our kits.

I should have replied, “Ugh. I feel terrible, and I just want to sit in the pack all day.” That’s truly how I felt. However, as I just mentioned, what I say out loud rarely reflects what goes on inside my head.

Instead, my response was, “I think we should just get FUNKY!”

Now, many of you might wonder what that means. Frankly, I’m not sure. However, I believe the loose translation is something to the effect of, “Let’s attack like rabid, aggravated howler monkeys!”

Of course, Ryan and I are not the ones dictating the race strategy; we are mere pawns. The real shot-caller is Rob, along with his sidekick Bruce; both dole out the orders to the minions during the fabled “pre-race meeting.”

In case you’re wondering, here’s how most of our Elite Team pre-race meetings proceed:

Dude Macneill starts off with, [monotone voice] “So what’s the plan?” and stares around the circle at each of us, daring us to match his nonchalance.

That’s when I chime in with a string of overly dramatic, expletive-ridden descriptions of the dismemberment of the fundamental life-force of our competition. It’s all quite R-rated, abstract and unnecessary.

Cheery Bruce then responds calmly with, [British accent] “Alright, well, that’s all dandy, but is it tea time yet? I’ve got to stay hydrated, right? How do you like my headband, Rand?”

James typically adds a few comments that are actually relevant (he’s usually the only one), chides me for botching the finish of the previous 10 races, and flips his rock-star-esque hair back. His attitude matches his tracksuit, which also happens to match his flip-flops.

Ryan will then moan, grunt, and proclaim that he “feels terrible” and hasn’t “been sleeping at all.” He often laments that his legs are unshaven and that his bike is falling to pieces, a mechanical reflection of his whole life’s descent into dishevelment. Then he flashes the crazy-eyes and smiles, and you know it’s time to party.

Billy is pretty quiet, but that’s only because he’s too busy polishing his shoes and adjusting the angle of his helmet and sunglasses. He’s very professional about his style, which is why we keep him around.

Bo says even less than Billy, and usually stares off at the mountains in the distance. You can tell he’d rather be on a 200-mile deathmarch in the wilderness than at a ridiculous half-mile criterium.

While most of what we discuss in these meetings is complete and utter nonsense, they are team-building exercises. They are a large part of the reason we’re all so happy to be teammates.

Alright, let’s get back to the Suisun Harbor Criterium proper.

Frankly, I don’t have a whole lot to say about this race, so I’ll keep things succinct.

I attacked on the second lap, and was brought back. Billy countered, and was brought back. Ryan countered again, and was brought back.

On lap 10 (of 72), the officials rang the bell for a prime. Tim Granshaw (Sierra Pacific) attacked, and I jumped a few seconds later. We rolled around for a lap or two before we were joined by Evan Huffman (Lombardi).

The three of us drilled it. Trust me, it hurt.

The team raced like champions back in the group, keeping the chase from gaining enough momentum to bring us back. I cannot thank these guys enough for all the work they do, each and every weekend. Steve Jones was on the radio, and deserves credit for guiding the team through the race.

Tim Granshaw, who had raced the Masters race just prior to starting the P/1/2 race, began to falter about halfway through the event. He shortened his pulls to remedy the problem, but with 20 laps to go, he cracked. It was hot, he had a lot of miles in his legs, and we were really giving it full gas. The probability of a victory for me went up, but I still felt bad for the guy.

With 1 lap to go, I latched onto Huffman’s wheel. He’s a former Junior National Road Champion, and I know he has a killer sprint, so I needed to play the finish carefully.

Just before the second-to-last turn, I jumped to the inside, railed the corner, and sprinted down the short straightaway with a clear gap to Evan. I settled into the saddle for a moment through the final corner, and then gave it everything I had up the final straightaway to take the win. It was nearly a carbon-copy of James’ winning sprint on this same course, two years before.

Thanks again to all my teammates for their work. My constant idiotic attacks would be nothing but a laughingstock if it weren’t for them.

*I realize I’m grasping at straws here, comparing “long-winded” to “Central Valley wind.” My apologies.

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