Dana Point finished up with plenty of drama after the hard-fought crit. We started a man short after finding out that Tim broke his ankle in the crash; our thoughts were with him on his lonely left-footed drive home, and hopefully he recovers quickly. Our thoughts were also with Jorge Alvarado and his Bahati Foundation team; Jorge was killed just days before the race while training on roads in the area. The racing community is tight-knit, and this was an unfortunate way to be reminded that we need to look after one another.
And on that note: of course the big story of the weekend ended up being the crash in the finale and its aftermath. We've read all the reports, all the twitter manifestos, and it's clear that everything is still really contentious. From the beginning we took the approach of not slinging mud, and it's frustrating to read "journalists" who report after interviewing one rider, and the yokels who comment with "authority" because they "saw everything" from the youtube video. So, doing my best to keep out of the mud slinging, I don't want to write anything about the crash itself, because I don't think it's going to accomplish anything. NONE of us feel good about how the race finished. It wasn't good for anyone, we all had guys go down, it was messy. Pointing fingers personally won't solve that, and USAC and all the teams involved are looking into the situation, and we should respect what they decide.
What I find most tragic about the whole thing, and what I hope becomes the take home message, is that everyone involved looks dumb and we the racing community blew a good chance to represent ourselves. Bahati went through a lot this last week, it was a home race for that team, yet the lasting image for them is Bahati standing in the middle of the road, throwing his glasses into Pinner's front wheel. It would have been awesome for them to have come away with a result in Jorge's memory instead. Same goes for us: we had a good train going at the end of a very hectic race, controlled the finish even after starting a man down, and lost all that work after getting frazzled from the scrum. And for the record, I think the Borrajo brothers had the best take on what went down:
Hopefully we can now all pick each other up and move on, because it's only April, and I don't want to be playing roller derby for the next five months. I'm confident that was that, and we can all get back to a good clean slugfest next weekend at Sunny King. In some ways it's great to have gotten all the jitters out this early in the season, without anyone getting hurt. This year is clearly going to be a big battle in the sprints with just about every team bolstering its speed team, and all of us are hungry to win.
And with that I'm back home for three short days, then off to a four week marathon of crits. I'm excited to use that time to build momentum with the same group of guys, since thus far we've been shuffling rosters enough that every race is spent learning how we all race. The weekend strife also had a nice side effect, at least for me, of learning a bit more about we deal with pressure both on and off the bike. It was a messy race and messier aftermath, and I'm really proud of how my teammates handled themselves throughout it all. We've been professional, introspective, and as critical of our own actions as we have of other's, and that's going to come back in dividends throughout the rest of the season. Nice work boys.