Author - Mike Foley
Salinas Criterium - 5/24/2014
Masters 35+ 1/2/3
Course: A flat, five-corners (all lefts) and counter-clockwise located at Moffet Street, La Guardia Street, and Vandenberg St, near the Salinas Airport. Laps are 0.75 miles (1.2 KM). This is the same course used for races since 1996. Streets were resurfaced during September 2011.
Weather: Strong gusty winds
Teammates: Dave Allen
First, I want to say that Dave Allen is a kickass teammate and really made this race fun. He rode hard, he was tactical and he acted as drill sergeant when it was necessary. Once things got underway I could see how committed Dave was to winning and I was not going to let him down. In the end, the effort was worth every minute and the outcome felt like it was meant to be. Thanks Dave.
Saturday morning I was lying in bed staring at the ceiling with no intention of racing. For some reason Mary and I decided to rally - I was due for a good race beat-down so we headed South on the 101 and straight into some of the worst traffic I’ve seen. It seemed every car in the world was heading out of town for Memorial Day weekend. Somewhere south of Gilroy I was getting nervous we weren’t going to make the start and started changing into bibs and jersey. I called Dave and he alerted registration I might be close.
Well, we arrived with literally three minutes to spare. We pulled in, Mary jumped out and ran to reg, signed my name and handed me a number and a handful of pins as I rolled up to the start line. Dave pinned my number and the official started the race! “Nice warmup,” said Dennis Hopp as we rolled left into turn one as I was pulling on my gloves.
By the second or third lap I was in a break of three with Dennis. After that it seemed we were gaining a couple riders every few laps. At one point I looked back to see Dave bridging with another rider so I started skipping pulls. Within a couple laps he quickly made it across. Soon our group was up to eight, larger than the remaining field, and the group included Hernandez who I would argue was the most animated rider on the day.
Everyone taking short pulls we were closing in on the remaining riders in the main field. Around 15 miles into the race we lapped the “field” or the half dozen or so that were left, and it seemed Hernandez almost immediately jumped clear. Dave instructed for me to bridge. Thinking I had the element of surprise, which I didn’t, I jumped and dragged a string of riders up the road to Hernando. Admittedly a bad move but we still had half the race to go. As expected another attack came, this time from Michael Holt and shortly after Hernandez went again. This time I made the right move and got clear of the group and bridged to these two. As soon as I got close Holt attacked and Hernandez and I were in pursuit. Eventually the three of us worked out our differences and started working really well together.
The three of us rotating into the wind eventually caught the field again. I could see Dave up the road backing off the pace so we could catch. As soon as we caught them it seemed the lap cards went up indicating two to go. It was textbook – Dave asked me how I wanted the finish to go just as we were rolling down the finishing stretch and I said “off your left side at a hundred meters.”
Hernandez gave one more valiant effort to launch but Dave covered and closed the gap. We were now sitting 1, 2 with Dave on the front and me in second into bell lap. The field was single file behind us and Dave was sitting up front (owning it!) looking left and then right for anyone challenging. From the final corner it was Bike racing 101. Dave took the left hander tight at 100% effort with me tucked in on his wheel into the headwind. It felt like I came off his with 100% left in the tank.
I could not hide the smile when I cross the line, it was awesome! Dave, YOU are the man!