Chris Winn: Ramblings From The Road


20 March 2012


The flag has dropped and season 2012 is underway!  It was a crazy trip down south from Occidental to San Dimas, which included a few stops along the way but eventually we rolled in on the right side of midnight.  To side track just a little, our digs over the last week have been one of the best representations of how great the cycling community is.  With our original host house falling through at the last minute, it was a friend of a friend within the local cycling club that gave us a bed to sleep in and a kitchen to cook in and I can't thank Jeff and Andre enough.  Okay, onto the racing!  I always think it's fun to start the season with an event that you haven't done before, and for me the 3 day San Dimas Stage Race fitted the bill perfectly.  Looking at the honor roll, Ben has won this event not once, not twice but the last three consecutive years (!) so needless to say I tried to scour as much information out of him as possible on the winning formula.


The event started out with a nice 5.5km uphill time trial, and for sure was slated towards suiting the skinnier guys of the sport.  Being the first race of the year I really had no expectations going, other than to get a good hit out before the Redlands Classic the next week.  Plus with the local Californian guys already a month into their season it was going to be a solid introduction back to racing.  35th in the TT was all I could muster, but I was happy with how it went and kept a decent job of pacing the effort and not blowing up too early which has been a common theme for me in the past.

With the weather looking a little sketchy at the end of the time trial, sure enough the following days road stage was held in epic conditions.  Not at all what I expected for my sunny Californian adventure!  Torrential rain, wind and temperatures in the single digits made an already tough circuit a little tougher, especially when you add 150 hungry guys into the mix.  From the gun the race was pretty chaotic to say the least with everyone wanting to stay out of trouble at the front.  The threat of crashes were a matter of when, not if, especially with some road furniture to negotiate.  By the end of lap three things were starting to split up thanks to a nasty crosswind section through the start finish area and at this point I was on the limit trying to hold the line.  I hung in until after the next corner where things went pear shaped very quickly.  With no time to react a rider fell right in front of me and with sprawling bike and body across the road it was inevitable I was going to hit one of them!  Bike it was and I too was the next one to slide across the tarmac.  Sure enough it was dominoes behind me with another half a dozen or so guys tangled in the mix of carbon and lycra. I got up and checked myself over and thankfully it was only lost skin and no broken bones which is never a great way to start a season.  My bike's replaceable derailleur hanger did exactly it's job and was completely bent in plus the handlebars were all out of whack.  Unfortunately there were no neutral bikes left to use so I saddled back up on the horse and the quest now became to make time cut for Sunday's final stage.  With the main bunch a ways up the road I found myself in a small group that were either a part of the crash or who had already been dropped.  We rode on in the freezing temps and by lap 10 of 12 the inevitable happened and we were lapped by the leaders and therefore non starters for Sunday.  Bummer.  Heading back to the car I didn't realize just how bad shape I was in, not from the crash but from the extreme cold.  I cranked the heater in Nick's Volvo but I was already shivering uncontrollably alongside stuttering and slurring my words.  No doubt well on the way to hypothermia and not a good place to be!  Crashing is never fun, and especially not in the first decent race of the year, but is just one of those things that happens from time to time whether it is your fault or not.

So here we are a few days later, a few degrees warmer and I'm hanging to pin the numbers on again.  The first NRC of the year the Redlands Classic which starts Thursday and I'll be guest riding with the Juwi-Solar Team.  Juwi is another great Colorado based program and already knowing half the guys from either being previous team mates or lining up against them it's going to be super fun.  Kat is on her way out too and after  almost three weeks on the road it will be a real treat to have her here.

Best non Chipotle Lunch in Redlands so far.....

We left Northern Cali at the right time eh....

 I wasn't lying...the roads around Occidental were very much Dandenong's-esque and had me thinking about my home town at every turn!

Coming into Emerald....nope Occidental again!

Nick's Boo-mobile was loaded to the gills.  It was pretty incredible actually!  In fact between the passenger and drivers seat we had a 29'er MTB wheel dividing us!  Couldn't take a picture of that though, couldn't move my arms that way!

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