San Dimas Stage Race, California, USA, March 18-20, 2005
Gangs and bike races - San Dimas or bust…
The women’s T-Mobile squad arrived for the San Dimas stage race six women strong, with three days of racing ahead of us, starting with an uphill time trial, circuit road race, and a criterium. Unfortunately, one of our strongest riders and tactical experts, Ina Yoko Teutenberg, came down with a serious case of stomach bug the day before the race. She hadn’t eaten in over two days and could hold nothing down. Still, she swore she would ride the time trial and hope to feel better in time for the road race.
I was afraid she would ride herself right off the side of the mountain in a delirious haze if she attempted it. Yes, she’s an incredibly important part of our team, but health has to take precendence over just being at a race. Besides, we wanted her to go home and recover so she can kick my butt come Redlands and the Oak Glen stage. I have no doubt Ina could beat me up a climb if she really wants to. She’s led me out into the base of a climb so hard before that she drops me before I even get there. Anyway, Ina...I hope you are feeling better soon. You were missed this weekend.
Originally, the uphill time trial for San Dimas used to be eight miles long. It winds up this very cool road called Glendora Mountain Road and kind of reminds me a little bit of Mt Lemmon in Tucson. Unfortunately, due to the rains this spring, the road was closed further up and the time trial was shortened to just 3.8 miles. When the tt was longer, times were so far apart that the only way to win the race if you didn’t have a stellar TT performance was to rely on time bonuses in the road race and criterium. So both races were stacked with time bonuses. Since we were down in numbers, Kristin [Armstrong] and I knew we were going to have to put as much time into our competitors in the TT as possible.
As luck would have it, it started raining as we rode over to the TT course. Our mechanic set up our big tent so we could warm up on trainers and not get soaking wet until the last possible second. While I was warming up, the enormous Health Net bus drove by trying to find a parking spot. That bus is huge! I just imagined all the Health Net riders sitting inside, staying warm and dry, sipping espresso.
As the starter counted down my final five seconds before taking off, I pressed the interval button on my SRM and took off. There were 30 second time gaps between riders which made for great rabbits. It was a really fun course and was over before I knew it. I pressed stop on my SRM just as I crossed the finish line, immediately flipped a 180, and started riding back down in the rain. My hands had started to get cold on the way up, so I knew it was going to be a miserable, cold ride down. By the time I got back to the team van, my lips were blue and I could not stop shivering.
When Kristin and I compared times on our SRM, we were just one second apart. But when the unofficial results came out, the timers had added exactly 30 seconds to my time. This put Kristin first, Genevieve Jeanson in second, and me in third. When comparing results with some of my other teammates, it turns out they had added 30 seconds to Brooke’s time as well. Obviously the chip timing system was not working correctly. Our director Andrzej downloaded both Kristin and my SRM files onto his computer and brought it to the officials that night in protest. The results were very mixed up, as it seems they had added 30 seconds time to about 36 girls. The results didn’t get straightened out until after the road race, which caused some major confusion. But at least they eventually got it straightened out. Thanks Andrzej for being so persistent! This put Kristin in first and me in second, just one second back, then Genevieve Jeanson, Christine Thorburn, and Erinne Willock.
With the leader’s jersey to defend, we found ourselves in a bit of a stressful situation for the road race. Again, we started in a cool 49 (degrees f) and rain. It was a seven mile circuit that we raced eight times, with a 1km climb each lap. In the first half lap we lost two of our girls who were having a really bad day. Left with just three riders, and apparently no friends in the peloton, we were in trouble. With both Quark and Webcor squads numbering at six and eight girls respectively, we were definitely outnumbered.
Four time bonus laps were included, which made for interesting racing. Countering off one of the time bonus laps, Erinne Willock made a brilliant move and headed out solo. With no other teams interested in chasing, it was left to just Kristin, Lara, and myself. It was a tricky situation to be in and although Kristin and I both tried attacking, everyone was just sitting in, well rested to cover our attacks. At one point, Erinne had almost a one minute lead on the peloton, effectively making her the leader on the road. Plus, with the time bonuses she was accumulating, it was inevitable that we had lost the yellow jersey.
With Lara gone on the second to last time up the climb, Kristin and I tried to salvage what we could, and kept chasing. Finally, the last time up the climb, the teams with sprinters took over for the leadout into the finish. Why they weren’t interested in chasing earlier and going for a stage win still remains a mystery to me.
Brooke and I woke up early the morning of the criterium and wandered over to the coffee shop that we had been frequenting to get our daily shot of java. We arrived to find the parking lot all closed off with caution tape and surrounded by police. When we asked the girl pouring our coffee what had happened, she told us there had been a murder the night before. Apparently, she said, a gang had come to the Mexican restaurant next door recruiting members. Being the county hick that I am, I asked if the gang came from east L.A. to recruit members from the suburbs. No, she said, there were gangs right in San Dimas as well as Pomona and Baldwin Park. Not just east L.A. Then a rival gang showed up and a fight broke out. One of the gang members was stabbed and died right in front of the coffee shop. Brooke and I couldn’t believe it...these things didn’t happen in our little Colorado towns. San Dimas looked like such a 'clean cut' city too.
The criterium was run in downtown San Dimas and was gang-free. And even though the state of California is just half an inch off the historical record of rainfall, the sun shone on us today. We knew we had lost the jersey but now had to try and preserve our second and third places on the podium. Both Jeanson and Thorburn were in range of overtaking us, and with three time bonus laps up for grabs, it was going to be a good battle. Kristin did an awesome job of going for the time bonuses and held Christine to just one second behind me. Genevieve had bad luck mechanically and ended up two laps down, effectively putting her out of the race. Quark really lined up their lead out train well at the finish and put Tina Pic and Laura Van Gilder first and second for the stage, clinching the sprinter’s jersey.
It was a great race and sends us into the Redlands Classic, coming up in just 10 days, with good fitness and confidence. Bring it on.