Six years ago, I entered my first bike race and it just so happened to be the San Luis Rey Road Race. I remember spending the majority of the time on the front pulling everyone around thinking I could just ride away from the group. After all, that’s how we did it in cross-county running, a sport where the gun goes off and 200 people run flat out as hard as they can until they stumble across the finish line. There are no tactics, no strategy, but rather just a race against the clock to see who the fastest runner was that day.
I assumed cycling was the same thing. It didn’t take long for me to realize it wasn’t. When I registered for SLR, I expected to win. Instead, I got used and abused by the “wiser” an “smarter” category 5 racers in the field. I ended up getting beat and couldn’t figure out what just happened.
Driving home that day, the “Pros” were on the course. I remember thinking, “how can these guys race for 100+ miles. “That seemed ludicrous and an impossible feat for me at the time. I never imagined I would be in that same race a two years later.
It’s now 2015 and I was back racing the San Luis Rey Road Race. This time around, I’ve been a cat 1 for 5 years, raced hundreds of races throughout the country, have thousands and thousands of miles in my legs, and actually know a thing or two about bike racing. Every time I do SLR, it’s fun to look back and think about where I was 6 years ago.
This year, the race kicked off as usual. Attacks started flying just as soon as we hit the flat section. Since there were only three of us from KHS-Maxxis-JLVelo, we had to be selective as to what we would follow. Just before the half-way point of the first lap, two guys got away, Chris Walker and Ben Foster. There were a few other attempts of riders trying to bridge, but because everyone wanted to be in the break, no one was able to get any traction.
The first time up the hill was incredibly surgy. I rode my tempo to minimize the high power spikes and managed to always be within range of the front group. After the first lap, the field had broken up and was starting to come back together in the feed zone. I was sitting near the front and noticed a Rockform and InCycle duo attacking from my left. I immediately reacted and jumped on their train. The three of us got away from the group on the descent and we soon caught up with Chris and Ben who were still off the front.
Having the odds of 1 in 5 are not the best, so I worked the bare minimum and occasionally skipped a pull to keep the break from getting too far away from the group. I wanted to keep it in range so my teammates would have an opportunity to bridge across. After the 2nd lap, I noticed one of the stronger riders, Colton Hartrich, was well on his way to bridging solo to our break. If he made it, this would not have been good for any of us. Everyone in the break started working harder together and at the next time check, we had 3 minutes on the field.
For the next 5 laps, everyone continued to work and our time checks consistently stayed at 3 to 3.5 minutes. Unfortunately on lap 4, a few of the riders in the break crashed due to some gravel in the turn. After the crash, the break lost two riders and the three of us were left to try and hold off the rest of the field. We managed to keep our 3 min gap for the duration of the race and I knew going into the last lap, the winner would come from our group. I decided to attack, to see how everyone was really feeling, just before we hit the hill and only one of the riders was able to respond. We rode to the final climb, each taking stabs at trying to drop each other but after several unsuccessful attempts, we both realized it was going to come down to a sprint. I went early, made the final turn, and sprinted to the line with my head down, praying that my legs would not cramp. I crossed the line first and managed to barely get my arms up to celebrate. Shortly after crossing the line, I looked back to see teammate Fabrizio crushing the field sprint for 4th place.
It was an incredible day for KHS-Maxxis-JLVelo and a great feeling to finally take home the “W” at a race where it all began for me 6 years ago.
Thank you to our sponsors: KHS Bicycles, Maxxis Tires, JLVelo, Serfas, Shimano, Velo Saddles, Praxis Works, Xpedo Pedals, Kali Protectives, NDXSports, Bike Religion, Bicycle Blue Book, WD-40 BIKE, Chamois Butt’r, Cycling Illustrated, Rennie & Associates, Kramp Krushers, Ultra Cycle, and Q2.
Follow the team on social media –
The post Santos Delivers another Win at San Luis Rey Road Race appeared first on KHS MAXXIS JL VELO Cycling Race Team 2015.