Mid-race mantra: “Don’t go to bed with any regrets tonight Kennett. You won’t be able to sleep. Don’t go to bed with any regrets tonight Kennett. You won’t be able to sleep.”
Seconds after the race ended. “You’re getting no sleep tonight.”
When you’re out of the running and roll in mid-pack or off the back, you get depressed. When you’re close but just off the mark, you dwell. Dwelling is harder to get over. For one thing, it takes longer to finish a solid dwell session. What if I’d done this? Why didn’t I do that? If I’d only done this instead. All the sheets would be ripped off the bed and wrapped tightly around my legs by morning. I was in for a long night of tossing and turning.
How it went down:
Since I was at the front for the start, I decided to attack immediately once the race was de-neutralized. It didn’t go anywhere of course but I continued to set easy tempo on the front for the next five minutes just to stay out of trouble for the first couple turns, which are littered with cones and potholes. Like I’ve said with every bog post account of this race, the San Dimas circuit is an incredibly sketchy day. While I do love the course, every year it’s dangerous enough for me to question whether I’ll ever come back. The answer is of course yes, but I still do consider it. There’s road furniture, positioning is important to not get gapped off so everyone rides aggressively, there’s cones everywhere, there’s oncoming traffic around blind, downhill corners, and the road surface is less than smooth. This is my fifth time here yet I’ve never crashed, so I guess it’s not as sketchy as it seems. Ha. Tell that to Phil Gaimon.
I lost position on the second lap due to my fear of crashing and going fast through corners, and was too far back on the KOM climb. The race broke into three groups, with me in the third and largest group. For a few kilometers I worried that I’d blown the race and my day was over. It all came together on the feed zone climb though. Everyone was still fresh. Good. I tried positioning better for the KOM climb that third lap and did slightly better, but still missed out on the small front group that got away for the next couple miles. Shortly after the two groups merged back together, I attacked on the feed zone hill. Actually, that was on the fifth lap. It seems that I have no recollection whatsoever of the fourth lap.
Looking back after the feed zone hill descent, I saw a massive gap opening up already. I put my head down and kept going. A group of six or seven caught me right before the toll-booth, which is situated in the middle of the road, and we worked well leading up to the KOM climb. A few more guys bridged to us there and I think we might have lost one guy as well.
I’m terrible at keeping track of who’s in the break but I know that for the majority of the race we had 10 guys:
Anton Varabei (Jet Fuel)
David Santos (KHS)
Luis Amaran (Jamis)
Serghei Tevetkov (Jelly Belly)
Clement Chavrier (Bissell)
Kit Recca (Horizon)
Daniel Eaton (Canyon)
Bruno Langlois (5-Hour Energy)
Coulton Hartrich (Unattached…somebody pick this guy up!)
Most of the bigger teams were represented so the field was left with little reason to chase. That was a good thing since our cohesion was shaky for the next lap or two.
As usual, my desire to not get caught outweighed my desire to win, which meant that I took some extra pulls to help ensure we stayed away. I had great legs and never felt under pressure or tired the whole day. If I lost, it wouldn’t be because I was getting dropped, that much I knew for sure, so I figured working it for the next few laps wouldn’t hurt.
One guy who had the opposite idea and decided to sit at the back all day long and never come to the front except to take KOM and sprint points was Amaran. Maybe Jamis didn’t want the move to stick since none of their GC guys were in the move. Who knows, but it annoyed me.
Over the next five laps I didn’t go for any of the sprint or KOM points, just to make sure that I was as fresh as possible for the finish. My plan was to attack balls out on the final climb or follow moves on the last lap. I was going for the stage win, not a jersey.
We heard that our gap was over two minutes with a lap to go, which meant that we’d stay away. We began sitting up a bit and conserving, looking at each other, skipping pulls, and getting ready for the first attacks.
Daniel Eaton of Canyon was the first to go. He chose the feed zone climb and I was quickly on him. I pulled through super short, not really wanting to get away since I figured Clement (Bissell) would just sit on the front no matter what and pull. He’d been the most ambitious about keeping the pace up in the break since he was the best placed GC guy out of all of us and was just going for time. Eaton and I were swallowed up on the descent and the attacks flew for the next kilometer or two, then that was it. Everyone realized Clement was just going to sit on the front and keep the pace up, killing all but the most ambitious attempts to get away. Besides, we only had a short downhill section and then the KOM. That’s where the real action would take place.
Or so I thought. Clement continued setting the pace on the climb, albeit pretty easy on the lower slopes, leaving everyone with too much oxygen and punch in their legs for me to get away when I attacked half way up. I looked back at the top and saw Bruno Langlois gritting his teeth just 10 meters back with the rest of the group strung out behind on his wheel. Damn it. Should have gone earlier on the climb.
I sat up on the flat headwind section at the top and we rocketed down the quick descent to the finish straight. 2K to go. Clement went to the front again and drilled it. I should have gone with 500 meters, just for the hell of it since I knew I wouldn’t win the sprint, but I didn’t and started from last wheel with 250 meters. I finished a disappointing 7th but at least managed to avoid a nasty crash after the finish line. A group of photographers, who were standing in the middle of the road just 100 feet after the finish line, forced us to swerve around them at the last second as we grabbed brakes at 40mph. Eaton, Varabei, and Santos crashed into a parked truck in the process and destroyed themselves and their bikes.
The point of a telephoto lens is to capture images from afar, meaning you don’t have to stand ON the finish line to get a good shot. This was total mindlessness from the photographers. But, just like the riders, photographers, officials, volunteers, etc are all part of the race too, and are bound to make mistakes, just like us.
Top three on the stage:
1st Anton Varabei (Jet Fuel)
2nd David Santos (KHS)
3rd Daniel Eaton (Canyon)
Varabei won the race to the finish line and also to the side of the promoter’s truck. Poor truck. He’s a big fellah.
That’s a Jet-Fueled Varabei-sized dent in the side there.
I apologize for the lack of pictures. I feel worse and worse about inserting others’ work into my blog. But I have no moneys! Some day when I’m above the poverty line I’ll buy them I swear. There’s more images of all the races and all the categories and all the stages at Cycling Illustrated.com.
Here’s one on the KOM climb that highlights my good side. In hindsight I wish I’d gone for the KOMs. Oh well. You know what they say: “There’s always next year. Unless you die first. Or stop racing, which are basically the same thing.” I’m pretty sure that’s a saying.
Colin, Tim, and I had Dan in the feed zone with endless bottles of sweet, sweet Osmo. Every hand off was effortless and perfect. So for that, thank you Dan. Colin spent the day in the pack, surfing through the carnage that would see only 45 guys out of the 150 starters make the main front group. Tim, who also made the main front group, spent multiple laps off in no man’s land by himself, just 50 seconds behind us at one point. He got caught on the last lap at the top of the KOM. Just needed one more guy to bridge the gap.
I was hoping to at least move into the top 10 GC since the field was a minute back, but I only managed 11th. Today I have the crit to make up a few seconds, though my chances of that aren’t great.
Written later after the crit:
The crit didn’t go great. Didn’t go terribly either. I never made it to the front to go with any moves. I just wasn’t aggressive enough to get up there. I moved down a spot on GC to 12th. It was a good weekend of racing though. Colin, Dan, Tim and I capped it off at the Inn N Out Burger with my friend, Will, who’d come to watch the race, then later we teamed up against a poor girl on a 4 vs 1 blind date at the frozen yogurt place (set up via Tinder), and ended the night at Del Taco. We binged on fast food like frat boys drink. The end of a stage race often calls for this sort of behavior. It’s the cyclist way of life. Plus, with Redlands starting just three days later, we had to pack those sugar and saturated fat stores to full capacity! I’m happy to announce that I’ll be racing with Landis Trek for the week. The temporary wolf pack of Colin, Dan, Tim, and I has sadly been disbanded. Another will take its place in the coming days. It’s a strange lifestyle being a lone composite racer. Redlands will be my last hurrah in the States until May. Sweden is calling at last and my composite days will come to an end as well.
To the race promoter of San Dimas, all the volunteers, officials, and everyone else, thanks for making this weekend great and I’ll see you next year.
Oh, and as a footnote, I’d like to thank Josh Berry and his mom for driving out from Redlands to pick me up from the Azusa Super 8, and in doing so sparing me the 4-5 hours worth of bus rides and transfers I’d have had to take in order to get here to Redlands. I owe him a couple tows to the front of the peloton now!