“Hey Mommy, when I grow up I want to be a race car driver!” … better yet, what about a bike racer that gets to race bikes on a race car track in California!
Arriving at the Mazda Raceway at Leguna Seca for Sea Otter Classic in Monterey, California, was like stepping into a festival of bikes, combining all elements of the sport from racing fat and skinny tires to an expo stacked with every bike manufacturer and product available! The environment was buzzing with energy as vendors, campers and athletes set up for a jam-packed weekend of everything bike related!
Day one opened up the weekend of racing with a criterium on the Laguna Raceway itself. The start list was far smaller than at Redlands Classic the week prior which offered a perfect opportunity for us to practice and execute team tactics. Our team captains, Denise and Leah, bring years of professional racing experience to the team offering unmatched learning opportunities for the ‘newer to racing’ members like myself.
Racing is the best opportunity to practice moving within the peloton, watching for breaks and developing that ‘instinct’ that allows a bike racer to know when to go and when to be patient. The race was unfolding just as we designed with attacks, aggression and a sense of domination. The raceway was covered with red TRT jerseys flying up the road including an early break from Sarah C leaving individual riders and teams including Twenty 16 Pro Cycling Team to counter all of our moves.
One of my biggest personal lessons from the weekend came about 3/4 into this crit when an attack went and that raw racer instinct in me said GO. Little did I know I was bridging the entire peloton up to the breakaway that happened to have both Denise and Leah in it… let’s just say this is a big team faux pas. Thanks to Denise’s expertise and flailing hand gestures I got the cue to ease up and back off the front. With three laps to go, our recent white jersey winner from Redlands, Sara B, attacked opening a significant gap on the pack, staying away right until the finish taking the big WIN for the team! This crit proved that tactical mistakes happen but working together as a team and utilizing each members’ strengths can win bike races.
Day two was the road race offering the perfect opportunity to use the strength of each one of our teammates over a longer 48 mile course with of plenty of climbing, fast descents, and relentlessly windy sections. The race was spicy from the get go with a few early TRT attacks that were rapidly countered. Leah G was a force to be reckoned with when she shattered the peloton in lap one on a steep climb immediately following the feed zone. Riders were shelled off the back (including myself) and spent much of the next lap bridging back to the lead group just be smacked again with another strong attack from Leah on the same hill! The peloton dwindled as the race quickly became a race of attrition, leaving three of our TRT ladies in the lead group. Just before lap 4 of 5, Denise flew off the front solo putting in a big effort and staying away for the remainder of the race, including the 4km uphill finish, solidifying a back-to-back win for Trek Red Truck! Sarah B joined Denise on the podium with her strong 5th place finish. Nothing is more motivating than getting to see your teammates step atop the podium and crack a bottle of champagne to celebrate a successful day racing bikes!
Day three was a day off from racing which gave us time to explore one of the most beautiful roads I have yet ridden (17 Mile Drive), soak in the ocean breeze, enjoy a delicious coffee shop stop in downtown Monterey and then lounge in our ever comfortable Lululemon street clothes!
Day four was the grand finale race of Sea Otter Classic, welcoming the highly anticipated circuit race on the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, including a punchy climb and corkscrew descent. Having two wins under our belt, we knew every rider and team would be marking our red Louis Garneau helmets very closely. Our race strategy gave each one of us a specific role to execute within the race, and for me that was to ride at the front of the pack making sure no attacks were made without a TRT rider in it. The first half of the race went just as planned as Gillian and I marked the front of the peloton, successfully keeping the pack tight. 30 minutes into the 60 minute race is when roles changed and Denise, Leah, and Sara moved forward, launching countless attacks and finishing off the race with another trip to the podium with Leah in 2nd and Denise in 4th!
Lining up to a bike race as a team brings about a whole new sense of motivation and responsibility. Each rider has a specific role, contributing to bigger goals and ultimately team success. As a rookie on the team, Sea Otter Classic was a perfect weekend for me to be a sponge and learn as much as I can from the depth of experience and strength on this year’s 2015 roster. A huge thanks goes out to our sponsors and team managers whose above and beyond efforts arranging logistics, setting up our Trek Red Truck tent, filling bottles, and manning the feed zones made this weekend a complete success! We are now all off to Santa Rosa, for the annual TRT training camp where we get to ride with our sponsors and bank a big week of miles under the California sun!
Until next time,