by: Joseph Schmalz
San Dimas Stage 2 road race is a perfect example of when all the pieces of the puzzle come together and the machine runs smoothly. On a day far from perfect all of us were sitting in the nice warm van looking out upon what was almost certainly going to be one of the coldest, most miserable days of racing all year. Yet everything seemed calm. Everyone was in great spirits – cracking jokes and laughing. No one was complaining or dreading what was to come. One thing is for sure – we don’t have any softies on the team!
When the race started it was clear everyone was riding great! We had at least one guy in every move of the day – everyone was doing their part and then some. It was clear with the horrible conditions the race was going to blow to pieces. When the dust settled Heath and I were in a very strong front group and we were the only team with two riders to make the move. Really good numbers for us especially when you consider that Heath was riding like 10 men!!
As the laps went by we got closer and closer to making the break work. With two laps to go it started getting pretty touch and go — would we be able to stay away or get caught. At this point everyone in the break was pretty dead from the cold rain and wind. On the last lap we came thru the start/finish and we only had about 40 sec. on the field. I asked Heath what he thought we should do. To be honest I was not very confident in myself. In fact I couldn’t really feel anything at this point, I was so cold, but I knew between the two of us we should be able to make something happen. With about a half lap to go Heath had me sit on and save it for the last time up the climb. Heath proceeded to drive it on the front and ultimately saved the break. It was amazing! We got to the climb on the last lap and no one attacked so Heath went right back to the front and kept riding. I was sitting on in perfect position. At the bottom of the descent Ben Jacques-Maynes took off and got a pretty good jump on all of us. This is where Heath won the race for me! He went back to the front and pulled Ben back with about 1k to go. In the confusion/hesitation when we caught Ben, I went for it!
After all this, the hard man award of the day still had to go to our Soigneur, Doren Bingham. He had raced in the morning in the same crappy conditions. As soon we arrived he was back out in the rain getting our bikes ready and fixing bottles. Then he went to the start to take our jackets and make sure we where ready to go. He then stood in the feed zone for the next 4 hrs in the cold, pouring rain and never missed a beat. What takes the cake – after the race as we rolled up shaking uncontrollably from the cold he was waiting with a big bottle of hot chocolate!! All I have to say is he is the man and thank you!