I have seen something else under the sun: The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all.
Despite the common misconception, Los Angeles is not a desert but rather a semi-arid coastal plain. Ten months a year there’s no need for climate control and living there will make you soft. Luckily, the environment of the Rosena Ranch New Home Community resembles the surface of Mars and racing bikes there will expunge any physical or spiritual frailty. My own moral compass is in constant need of recalibration, so this Saturday I packed my bike, cut my hair, practiced my best Total Recall grimace, and joined 40 other pilgrims for 25 laps of the road to perdition.
Photos by Chane Jonker
As per usual, the race started hot. On the first lap, four brave souls forged clear. A lap later, I found myself on the right wheel at the right time (a wheel that belonged to junior worldbeater Sean McElroy) and bridged across. Just as we arrived, the winds scattered the front group like a handful of dry leaves and Sean and I found ourselves in the company of just one other rider — Cory Greenberg. Showing a clear disdain for the peloton’s company, Cory spent the next ten laps dragging us to and fro across the Santa Ana-blasted heath. Meanwhile, local powerhouse KHS set to managing the gap. As they burned through riders one by one, I had ample opportunity to study the tread pattern of Cory’s back wheel and wish I’d had the foresight to draft a will. At least my fade would look sharp in the casket.
When the KHS led peloton got close enough, a handful of riders bridged across including two from KHS. You’d think I’d welcome the extra assistance, but obviously we bike racers don’t really like one another very much because the attacks started immediately. For about three eternities (maybe five laps) the group split and regathered, shuffled and reshuffled, but surprisingly we didn’t lose any riders. Since the course doubles back on itself we had plenty of chances to gawk at the splintered peloton, and they didn’t look much happier than I felt.
Attacks are followed by lulls, and at a point some unknown number of laps later I found another good wheel to follow, this time Southbay hero Sam Warford’s. Two amphibians in the desert, he and I played a game of leapfrog while the other racers made eyes at each other and swapped cookie recipes. Eventually they refocused their attention on the task at hand and unlike Humpty Dumpty the break was back in one piece. I think we might have lost a KHS rider at this point. Don’t ask me, I don’t have mirrors on my bike. Maybe you can figure it out by looking at the Strava flybys.
Where were we? Oh yes. The other Cory in the race (Lockwood) took off as we crested the hill on the antepenultimate lap. Thinking I was doing my frenemies a favor, I stepped on the gas and accelerated with all the swiftness of a dirigible launching into a headwind. To my surprise, no one else felt much urgency at this moment, and soon enough it was just me and Mr Lockwood. Knowing him as an accomplished time trialist, I could see that I would once again be relegated to the stoker position. Thinking back to my coastal origins, I channeled my inner remora and clung on for two and a half laps. As we approached the finish I morphed back into a frog and did what frogs do best: leap, and then croak.
Sean attacked his elders once more, I think, and came across in third. Thanks to Cervelo for helping me go fast without trying too hard and all the folks at Bike Effect for working minor miracles on a daily basis. Also thanks to water bottle wielding angel Gabi.
By Evan Stade, Bike Effect