It's barely February and our goal was to get some good training in warm weather. The team came together with last minute plans to race Valley of the Sun in Phoenix, AZ. At 4 am on Thursday we packed the team van in Fremont and set off. The van stopped in Fresno, LA, and Palm Desert collecting teammates and booting dads into the other car. In Palm Desert we went for a team ride to loosen up our legs and dividing the 12 hours of driving.
The Time Trial was Friday and we were all excited to try out our winter legs in the 80+ degree air. Diego's family drove an RV to the race the night before and staked out parking for us right near the start. We literally created a 3 walled (RV, Team Van, another Van) warm-up/living space. Carpet and canopies were set up to separate us from the elements during our warm-ups. We each did our TT's over the course of a few hours (separate categories) and then went for a team cool down ride. Kyle rode with us (came to the race just to hang and ride with the team, because he is recovering from a surgery. What a teammate). After the ride we packed up the compound and headed to dinner and then the hotel.
Saturday was the RR. It was a very chaotic day and we had to constantly adapt. Dean and I started the 2s RR (94miles), but were forced to stop on the side of the road for 45 min because of a crash in the Pro field. Side note: The rider flew into a car. He ended up being ok other than a sprained pinky (other riders were not as fortunate). We saw his Specialized helment that night. It was cracked everywhere and looked like a egg. It still held it's strength though and likely saved the rider. After the wait in 81 degree heat we set off again and finished our race. We tried to make a few breaks on the climbs, but nothing was sticking. It ended in a field sprint from gutter to gutter for the last 2km. We were unlucky in the sprint, but learned from the mistakes. That night Barney King invited us to a BBQ at his house. We had a great time talking to him and the other guests. He taught us some of his BBQ techniques and we enjoyed his wife's amazing cooking.
The crit was Sunday. It was a new course because Arizona was having a party on the old course for their 100 year anniversary. The new course was much tighter, but kept the figure-eight, 8 corner design. Our hotel was close enough to ride to the race and we used that as a warm-up. With 5 laps to go I got into a 3-man break, but one rider wasn't working so I attacked and reshuffled into a new 5-man break. The riders were tired from the past days of racing and didn't have the fire power to hold the field. We were caught with half a lap to go and were forced to finish with the field. It was great to get some good training in before heading back home. From there we immediately set off for the 12 hour drive home. We had some expert navigating by Larry to avoid a 3 hour traffic jam and some impressive endurance driving by the dads. We arrived in Fremont at 3:30 AM in time to get home and sleep a little before Monday.
- Marcus Smith
- Marcus Smith