Featured Photo by Chris Brown
It wasn’t until the night before this race that I decided to come out to the UC Santa Cruz Slugapalooza Criterium in Salinas. I’m glad I did!
As the defending champion of this fun, small criterium, it was almost obligatory to make an appearance. However, the true reason for coming out this sunny afternoon was to support our local cycling events. The Monterey Peninsula is somewhat isolated from all other calendar events, besides the Central Coast Cycling Series (CCCX) and Sea Otter Classic. Typically, to get to a race one has to drive at least 1.5 hours or more. Salinas, being about a 25 minute drive, is a stone’s throw away!
The Pro 1/2/3/4 women’s race started off with a mechanical for me. After getting back in to the race, I was forced to chase down a few early break attempts. Thereafter, the field settled into several laps of excruciating below-endurance pace, and I became the marked rider. The name of the game became resilience. Who had the capacity to recover the quickest from attacks and counter-attacks? Who would be the toughest in the field? Unbeknownst to me, the officials had planned to put in prime laps to keep us racers on our toes. Making sure that no break stayed out of reach, I was able to sweep up both primes.
The final lap was fast and somebody chopped my wheel! As a light rider, it’s always beneficial for me to stay protected from the wind as much as I can. I waited as long as I could before sprinting for the win!
For some extra miles and intensity, I also signed up for the Men’s Pro race which was to be the last race of the day.
The big news was Laurens Ten Dam, the Dutch pro cyclist racing for Giant-Alpecin, was to race in the Men’s Pro race. What an awesome opportunity for us domestic racers to get the chance to be in the same race as such an experienced and accomplished racer as Laurens TEN DAM!
Ten Dam has had many top ten finishes in important stage races including the Volta a Catalunya (2007), The Tour Down Under, the Tour of California, and the Tour de Suisse (2011). Also most noteworthy were his 2x top ten finishes in Grand Tours: 8th in the Vuelta a España and 9th in the Tour de France, and he won the Mountains Classification in the Tour de Romandie in 2009. [Source: Pro Cycling Stats.com, 2016]
Oddly enough, I heard someone had complained to the chief official that Laurens Ten Dam should not be allowed to race with us. I’m not an expert on the rules, but in my opinion it’s an honor to race with such an accomplished rider as Laurens Ten Dam. Who wouldn’t want to get a chance to race with someone who has basically traveled the world to race at all the major tours, AND who has done exceptionally well at it? By a show of hands, the riders voted to let Laurens Ten Dam race. Off we went.
It was a fast and furious race with many attacks, breaks, and small groups forming on a continuous basis. The results at the end of the day, don’t tell the story. It was an incredibly hard race, with strong tail-, cross-, and headwind sections. No riders were pulled by the officials, so people were lapped, dropped, lapped again and even jumped into the breakaway group of riders. It was hard to keep up with who was actually the head vs. the tail of the snake. I had the pleasure of jumping in with the breakaway and getting a few action shots together with Chris and Laurens Ten Dam. This was totally worth the extra $15 to race a second race!