A very special thanks to Bill and Annette McCusker for the wonderful photos of our team from the San Dimas race weekend. Check out their website at gmr.bike!
San Dimas Stage Race (SDSR) always starts with an uphill time trial climbing the twisty Glendora Mountain Road. About 4.25 miles long with 1245 ft elevation gain, this time trial can greatly impact a rider’s placement for the entire weekend by creating significant time gaps. With top-notch competition in the field, we knew it was in the team’s best interest that each of us do the best we could in the time trial.
As with all time trials, warm-up was key and we all arrived with plenty of time to warm-up for at least 60 minutes and hydrate. Melanie was the first to go off, followed by Sara, Judy and finally Diane – who, in all honesty, was running off pure adrenaline at this point. She had flown into Southern California at 11:30 pm the night before after putting an insane amount of work organizing not one, but two engineering events in the prior weeks. The time trial course starts with a very gradual rolling section and before crossing over a bridge to a sustained 4.5-6.5% climb that favors steady, seated power. Although 4.25 miles sounds like a breeze, at full speed we were all gasping for air at the top. Glad that the hill climb was done and dusted, we celebrated with GU recovery shakes before eating lunch in the delightful town of Glendora. While there, we constantly refreshed our phones, waiting for results. When the results finally came out, Diane was pleasantly surprised to see that in her beleaguered, sick, sleep deprived state she had not only PRed on the hill climb but busted into the top 10 with a 7th place finish! What a beast!
Stage 2 of SDSR is a road race through Bonelli Park road race consisting of 8 laps of a 7 lap rolling hill circuit. Laps 2, 4, and 6 have QOM points on the top of the main climb, while laps 3, 5, and 7 feature sprint points through the Start/Finish line. With Diane sitting 7th on GC after stage 1, our main goal was to help her maintain or move up on GC, while also trying to all finish with the main group. Armed with GU Energy Chews in our pockets and GU Hydration Mix in our bottles, we were well prepared to tackle the challenging course in the hot SoCal weather.
Let’s get real – this circuit race masquerading as a road race is one of the most fun courses we get to compete on all year. Due to the technical nature of this course, with lots of sharp turns, road furniture, and terrible pavement positioning near the front of the peloton is absolutely key. A quick lapse in concentration, and a cone, pothole, or inattentive rider will take you out. The GU Energy Chews were incredibly helpful for this race because the package allowed for quick opening and eating without having to remove your hands from the bars for very long. And the caffeine was a much needed boost!
All four of us settled in to the race after a couple of laps, and with the exception of the sprint and QOM points, there was only a few attacks off the front, none of which stuck. By the 7th lap, it was time to start thinking about being positioned for the finish, as it was clearly going to come down to a field sprint. Feeling good, Diane moved to the front before the QOM hill and led the pack up the climb, allowing her to maintain good pack position heading into the last lap. Judy, Melanie, and Sara were also still in good position in the peloton. On the final lap, heading up the hill, Diane was still very close to the front as we headed onto the descent to the finish, with the rest of us just behind. The finish was very fast and nervous. Unfortunately, in the final 100 meters, two crashes took out several riders and Diane suffered a catastrophic mechanical when her mega-watts ripped off the derailleur hanger and she was forced to walk across the finish line. Thankfully, none of us were involved in the crashes and Diane was given the same time as the race winner, maintaining her position on GC. Sara and Melanie also finished with the front group with Judy just a little bit behind so we achieved our goals. In a complete daze at the end of the race, it was nice having the convenience of the GU Recovery Drink Mix mixed with water to quickly start the recovery process since we still had one more stage to go. That chocolate flavor of GU recovery is on point!!
The story of Sunday’s crit begins on Saturday afternoon. Diane was fortunate enough to find an amazing, supportive bike shop outside Glendora that overhauled her mangled mess of a bike within 2 hours. They put on a new derailleur (and hanger), new chain, and new bottom bracket. And Melanie was gracious enough to lend Diane some wheels because Saturday’s mechanical incident had cost Diane a spoke in her rear wheel. At this point, the attentive reader might be thinking, “Hm, a new chain with an old cassette from Melanie? That doesn’t sound good…” And the attentive reader would be correct in his suspicions! All was looking up for team Folsom Bike in Sunday’s race until Diane stood up to sprint out of a corner and her bike started making horrible noises. The pit was of no assistance. A lesser rider might give up then and there. But Diane is no average woman. She is a beast. A beast who spent the entirety of Sunday’s crit last wheel, completely seated, motoring through the race. Melanie and Sara valiantly tried to tow Diane back up to the front of the pack, but she sadly declined their offers and took up her place in the purgatory zone. Meanwhile, Judy was completely oblivious to all these problems. When she didn’t see Diane for a while, she naturally assumed Diane was in the break. And there was no way of knowing otherwise, since the pack caught the break right before the end of the race, for which Judy managed to move up on the last lap and snag 10th place. For all her efforts, Diane managed to come in 9th on GC, only having lost 2 places during that unfortunate race which was the crit.
A special thanks goes out to the organizers of the San Dimas Stage Race, who set our team up with fantastic host housing – and shout out to our wonderful, fun, and welcoming hosts, Marion and Wolfgang. We could not have asked for better people with whom to share this weekend. Also, thanks as always to our sponsors – GU for keeping us hydrated and fed throughout the weekend; and especially Folsom Bike for letting us take the team car down and serve as home base during the weekend. From earthquakes (2014) to broken bikes (2016), the San Dimas Stage Race always keeps us on our toes. It’s one of the highlights of the racing calendar!