CashCall Mortgage Turns Dreams Into Reality
By Brian McCulloch
When you set your goals, do you sit back and let your imagination run hog wild? Do you think to yourself it would be huge to receive your Cat 2 upgrade, to race for a Domestic Pro Team, to attack a sputtering field in the closing meters to take a solo win of Cancellara like proportions? Or do you dream bigger…?
When I first started racing bicycles in 2006, my goal was to some day become the State Road Race Champion, in any category. At the time I thought it would be a lofty order to even speak about winning the state jersey in the Cat 1-2 field. Certainly, I didn’t want to be ‘that guy’ talking about winning the most hotly contested race in SoCal while still working towards my Cat 4 upgrade…!
In the years that have passed since my first races as a new road cyclist. I have never lost the dream or the desire to win the State Championship. While I have enjoyed a wonderful run of results through Cat 2 and now 1, winning a road race has always eluded me. No doubt, I have many wins by-proxy, because of my teammates, and I take great pride in being a part of their success. At Team CashCall, every win is a team win, and we take that fact very seriously. It is the work of many, both on and off the bike, which generates the success that this team enjoys.
In the recent weeks my form has been the best I have ever had. I am also maturing as a racer to be sharper tactically and to utilize the skill-set that I posses on the bike. So when Paul ‘The God Father’ Abrahams gave me the green light to make my bid for Sundays SCNCA RR win I jumped at the opportunity. Now, you may already know the outcome of the story, but you may not know that responsibility and anxiety that can come with telling seven of the strongest men in California (and indeed the U.S.) that you can and will win a bike race. It’s akin to Babe Ruth calling his home run shot when he steps up to the plate, although I am no Babe Ruth, I certainly respect the hard work and sacrifice that all of my teammates (and the men we race against) put into their training/racing.
The race couldn’t have gone better in my eyes. With four 25 mile laps on a hot, hilly, and windy course, this race would prove to be challenging for all racers. We attacked the race early with teammates Stefano Barberi and Wes Holloway making the first break and rolling hard. This put extra pressure on the field, which forced the Swami’s team to come to the front in a great show of team work they rode to limit the break from getting away. Swami’s eventually got help from the ‘Get Crackin’ boys and we had a real bike race on our hands, I was excited! The break continued to roll, but was not getting a lot of leash from the field.
On the second ascent of the main climb my boys Lee Muse and Devan Dunn smashed it hard when everyone was in the red and went across to the break, further strengthening our teams position. Now the break was up to seven with four of my teammates in the break. The field looked to lose some momentum and moral when this happened, but just as soon as it looked like the race was done, more strong riders made their intentions known and worked hard to limit the breaks escape. At this time, I have to send a shout-out to my teammates David Santos and Justin (J-Wow) Williams. Santos fought hard to follow a flurry of early attacks and burned up some valuable energy early to keep me from having to accelerate too many times, while J-Wow fought like a champion and covered some moves early. J-Wow did a personal best ride and raced hard all day, for a guy that struggles on the climbs, he showed me how to suffer.
Meanwhile the break lost two riders, Connor Mcutchon of Simple Green and my teammate Wes Holloway came out the back. Wes is just coming off a knee injury and is building his fitness, but will not let a race go by without his presence being felt by the peloton. Wes smashed himself to drive the break and although his legs eventually gave out, he showed a tenacity and hunger that was simply impressive.
As the field descended the main climb on the third lap it was clear it was time to make my move. Once we hit the flats attacks started coming hot and fast, just the way I like it. Eventually, the combination was right and I got off the front with Lucas Binder, the protected Swami’s rider. He is a stud time trialist so I was crossing the break with the right guy. We buried it to break the field and eliminate the remaining climbers from the race. Once we got the final feed zone, I accelerated to keep our speed on the pitch to the final turnaround. I got a little gap and had to take it. This was my time, my boys had to see me coming across solo, and they did!
At the turnaround to head out on the final 25 mile lap I was still a bit behind the break but I was ‘all-in’. I had to make it across. This was my race to win, and I wasn’t going to let it pass. I fought and I fought to bring the gap closer, standing to accelerate whenever my speed would drop. Finally salvation came and it came in the form of a 6’3” tall man in blue. Devan had come back to help me cross the gap. He was a monster! Together he and I closed the final gap to the break. Now it was time to work.
Once I was at the break I took long hard pulls and tried to give some relief to my salty teammates. These guys had been busting their humps all day, Lee especially was salty. I knew he had worked hard all day, but he never shorted a pull, he was fully committed to the break. As we hit the final ascent of the main climb we were smashing it with Devan really “stretching the cable.” By the time we hit the top, we had a three minute lead on the field. But there was still 20 miles left to race.
We continued to pull hard, but had to assess the situation as we had four in the break of five. Tom Soladay from Optum was still with us. A proven Pro like him can never be counted out, we had to be diligent.
As we approached the final miles, I saw the slaughter house that gives this race course it’s name (note: the hold a race on the course called Vles Huis Ronde which means Slaughter House in Flemish). I chose my moment and made my attack, I went with three miles or so to go to the finish and rode as hard as I could to the line. This is where the fun begins… my injured teammate Anthony Canavari and his girl Kimmie Patron had been feeding us all day (thank you, you were a life saver!). They were still in the feed zone as I approached solo, they were screaming so loud that I thought Soladay was coming to my wheel! So I never slowed down from the bottom of the climb all the way to the finish, I was sprinting 200m out, just to make sure that I was not to be caught!
So no glamorous finish photo, just a good story…!
Even today I am still enjoying this result and I must say a huge THANK YOU to my teammates for believing in me and sacrificing their chances for me. To my team and our sponsors, I am humbled by your support and passion for our program. And to all the folks (friends, family, fellow racers, and supporters) that have shared their excitement through our team Facebook page, please know that I am extremely thankful that you are excited for this result. This was a tremendous victory for our team, our program, and for me as an individual. I could not do it without the gracious support and belief of so many people.
Until next time be safe, ride hard, and have fun!