Redlands Bicycle Classic - California, USA, March 24-26, 2006
Another sunny day in Redlands - I was already awake when the alarm went off at 6:00am. The night and the protest to get Kathy Sherwin back into the race [yesterday's post] spilled into the morning today as I could not get an answer from the officiating crew about her problems at the start line. Kathy was obviously upset about being potentially excluded from the race on the first stage.
Regardless of her status, we had to prepare for the criterium with every intention that she would race. Bike prep included changing some cassettes for the flatter course. Wash, lube and polish and the bikes were ready to go. Our girls wanted to ride into the downtown race location from their host houses, so we had to shuttle bikes out to the host family homes. When we got to the race course we found a little shade under the roof of a local bank and set up the trainers.
The development riders had done well in the TT and we were interested to see how they would do in a tight crit; this would be the biggest and most competitive field that all three have ever faced. I met with the race referees before the crit and they again pleaded Kathy's case. The officials concurred and with less than 30 minutes left to start the crit, Kathy was reintroduced into the field.
The crit was fast and furious from the gun; Lipton was interested in upsetting Amber Neben's lead. Sure enough, Kristen Armstrong [Lipton] took the opening two time bonus sprints and the race lead changed on the road. In the pits, it was fun to hook up again with a number of other team mechanics that I have not seen since last year. As a lot of us change teams year to year, it was good to see some familiar faces, even if the clothing has changed.
I was most happy to see a lost friend of mine, Maynard Hershon, working for Mavic again. I have done a lot of mechanic work on the back of the moto with Maynard as the driver in the past [Gila stories] and I've not been able to contact him in almost four years. Maynard has a love for bike racing that I share, so I was really excited to see him again at the races. Bike racing as a sport is better with Maynard around, look for him at a NRC race near you; he is a legendary writer, moto driver, and curator of the sport.
Crit done, and I had a few extra things to do besides the usual bike work. One of our development riders, Heather Holmes, was having trouble with her back, so it was time to try a shorter stem. This early in the year, riders don't have lots of race time on their bikes, so some changes are expected. Heather lives in a colder climate and had only ridden her new bike four times before arriving at Redlands.
The last stage is the most difficult. The Sunset Loop is a 10km circuit with a long, gradual climb. The CG should be clarified as this challenging final stage usually rewrites the story of the race.