After a great week of racing in Tobago and a brutal final stage, we were all ready for a few easy days before getting back to a bit of racing. Monday’s recovery schedule included some snorkeling at a coral reef right in front of our apartments, and was a perfect way to close out our time on the island. We packed out of the nice race provided housing and headed out to the ferry, taking a boat ride across to the larger island of Trinidad.
With a much larger population, and industrial economy, Trinidad was a big change of pace from the beach resort life we had on Tobago.
After enjoying some of the great food the local bakeries and shops had to offer, we headed out for a bit of a training ride out to Maracas Bay, outside of Port of Spain. The 20km ride out to Maracas Bay saw us conquer some rolling mountains through a tropical rainforest, with views of the city and surrounding rainforests that were almost as breathtaking as trying to hold our skinny climber’s wheel up these hills. (Thanks for dropping me, Colin.)
As a bit of a rainstorm rolled in we made it to Maracas Bay and stopped for some famous “Bake n Shark.” A journey back up and over the mountains took us back into Port of Spain.
With a big day of racing ahead of us the next night in Trinidad, we knew we had to fuel up with the best nutrients possible. Seeing those beloved golden arches in the distance, we knew that the pre-race fuel of champions had to be consumed, so a journey to the local McDonalds soon followed. After a few burgers and McFlurrys, I knew the body was topped off and that the legs would be fire the following day. Our morning spin took us through Queens Park, around the world’s largest roundabout, and to Mike’s Bikes of Trinidad, the host of the Beacon Cycling on the Avenue race. With the legs primed and ready to go, all I needed was a bit of Liftoff from Herbalife 24 and I was ready to rumble for the late-night crit in downtown Port of Spain. We started out the night with a 2-lap sprint challenge, with riders from many of the top teams including Raiders and Heatwave taking place. Colin Patterson attacked from the gun, and kept the pace high for the first lap. As he started to pull off, I jumped off the front and rolled with 1 lap to go, trying to hold off the field to take the win. I was able to make it to about 75m to go before one of the sprinters on Raiders caught and came around me, but was able to hang on for 2nd, with fellow American Scott McGill of Aevolo finishing in 3rd. After a deep effort like that, I wasn’t sure how the legs would respond in the main event that followed, the 35 lap elite race.
The elite race started fast, with large primes being announced from the gun and attacks by all the major teams going in the first lap or two. After a couple of early moves, I noticed a 4 man move with all of the big teams represented starting to get away. After a big bridge effort with Bryan Gomez, we were able to connect with the break and started to roll away from the field. An attack for a big prime split the break, and it whittled down to 5 riders total. Joel Yates, Frank Travieso, Bryan Gomez, and Akiel Campbell all made the move with me, and it quickly became obvious that this was the winning selection. Looking to the lap card I saw 30 laps to go, and knew that this would be a big effort to spend nearly 90% of the race off the front with some big name riders. We rotated smoothly for nearly 15 laps, and then we started to see the follow car up in the distance. It was evident that we had such a large gap that we were going to lap the field, so we settled in a bit and started to slowly close down the gap to the back of the race. In typical Latin American fashion, this brought drama of its own. As we were almost to the back of the field, a spectator attempted to cross the road in the apex of a dark corner, and nearly took out every one of us in the break. After that scare, we then dove the inside of a few official vehicles and ambulances at 50kph to close the gap down completely, and made contact with the peloton once again. Being in a race situation like this was completely foreign to me, and was a bit of a learning curve for sure. Going from having never made the break in a national level race, to lapping the field in the Caribbean’s largest criterium was quite the exciting jump up, and gave me some confidence heading into the final few laps. Feeding off the experience of Bryan and Frank, I followed them straight to the front and rode behind their lead-out trains for the final 10 laps. I tried to set myself up to sprint against those guys, but the experience and speed of those top dudes was just a bit too much for me, and I found myself rolling across the line 5th. I’m super grateful to have opportunities like these to learn and prove myself against some very established riders, and have to thank the management and supporters of Marc Pro Cycling for all they have done for me and the team this year. They helped to develop me from a brand new racer on the domestic and international scene at the beginning of this year to a young kid taking his first major elite result on the famous Avenue in Trinidad. A big thank you goes out to all of our sponsors and supporters that make this program a possibility, and I can’t wait to see what kind of adventure I go on next with Marc Pro Cycling!