Last weekend, my buddy Garret Hankins (Team Mikes Bikes pb Equator Coffees) and I loaded up the car headed south to Lompoc for the 805 Crit Series. With 3 days of racing and some solid purse money, both of us were looking forward to a full weekend of 90-minute crits. We decided that going down a day early to relax on the beach seemed like the logical decision. We drove down on Thursday, only to discover that the beaches were temporarily closed. Disappointed, but a perfect reason to sit in our hotel room and watch cartoons for hours and hours.
Which is exactly what we did.
Day One: Hancock Twilight Criterium. With strong winds and a subtly curving course, the racing was aggressive from the gun. I found myself off the front for most of the race with a combination of Logan Loader (Amore & Vita), Brandon Gritters (Rock n Road) and rotating door of other riders; some would bridge, then others would get dropped. And repeat. With 5 laps to go, the break had swelled to 9 riders including Garret (who sprints REALLY fast); it was clear we would be staying away.
With two laps to go Gritters put in a haymaker of an attack which got us chasing hard. In our frantic chase effort we managed to lap the field and catch Gritters. 300 meters from the finish Loader launched his sprint as I was coming around when Garret blew by me and posted up for sweet, sweet glory. If you’re going to get beat it might as well be your bro who does it.
Day Two: The Avenue of Flags Criterium. Bigger field, more wind, higher temperatures, and bounce houses.
Plan for the day: make break, win bike race, eat cheesecake. I was hoping we would get a few easy laps before things got lively. These hopes were dashed as people repeatedly threw themselves off the front.
At some point, I decided it would be a good idea to bridge to a dangerous looking move and -Wham! Bam! that was the break. We built a large gap and kept the pressure on; eventually lapping the field. With me, was my Herbalife pb Marc Pro-Stava team mate, Josh Carling.
Coming through bell lap Josh charged to the front and took control through the tight final few corners leading into the finish. Going kamikaze speed into the final corner, Cory Williams (Incycle – Cannondale) dove the inside of Josh, with his teammate Hunter Grove glued to his wheel.
After some bumper boats with Hunter I got a clear line through the corner and sprinted real real hard to victory. With my 2nd place on the first day and my win I was now leading the omnium leading into the final day. I got my cheesecake on the way home.
Day Three: Valley of flowers Criterium. As I walk to registration I wonder to myself, “How is it possible that there is more wind every day. When does it end? How much prerace did I just take?”
With my energy levels all but topped off I lined up for the final day of racing. I’ve never worn a leaders jersey so that was a nice change of pace. I will now sum up the first 45 minutes of racing…ATTACK, CHASE, ATTACK, PRIME LAP, ATTACK, get really tired, realize I shouldn’t have been attacking, hang on for dear life.
At some point Logan Loader and Brandon Gritters got off the front and built a sizable lead over the field- they were gone. I had a healthy lead in the omnium points but I can never say no to a good field sprint. With a couple laps remaining Team Clif Bar had 7 guys on the front keeping the pace high in an effort to deter anyone from slipping away.
Last lap I kept sheltered and out of trouble, knowing thatI could make up a few wheels in the long final straight. I jumped with 300 meters to go and had clear skies to the finish winning the sprint for 3rd.
With three podium trips in three days I sealed up the omnium with Garret in 2nd, Brandon Gritters 3rd, Logan Loader 4th, and Pete Morris (Team Clif Bar) 5th. Huge thanks to Mike Hecker and all of the people that put on an amazing weekend of racing.
Cant wait for next year.