Thursday, October 8, 2009

Article for the Racing Post

This is the article I submitted to Andy Hollinger for the Racing Post on our Corpus criteriums:

Corpus Christi is the farthest island in Texas' psychic racing archipelago. Venturing to races is difficult to say the least, which accounts to a large degree for our threadbare Texas Cup attendance. Now, I have no excuse—I live in Austin, the loft above Texas racing's psychic bakery. But it does explain why Corpus Christians were so excited to host the Conquer the Coast Criteriums this year and actually welcome a fair turnout despite (apologetically) crashing Denton's Crit Prom.

The fields were admittedly small, but fierce with our sport's humble celebrities. Riders like Carlos Vargas, James Murff, Rheannon Cunningham, Will Visser and Ruarri Day-Stirrat, to name a few. Of course, I chose to race the 4/5 so I didn't actually race against any of these riders, but I could have and that's my point. For me, the thrill was seeing my entire team at the starting line. The sea of red and white was more expansive even than at our own training camp last winter. It was invigorating.

Friday night, Aaron Haspel broke off the front after a prime and stayed 10-15 seconds off the front for well over a lap. I spent the next two bridging up to him with my wife and dog, my teammates, friends from the local bike shop and local tri club all shouting our names. My friend and mentor, Trevor Hadley, was giving us our splits and when he switched from calling out our lead to calling out how many seconds away we were from catching the pack...it's indescribable, but I'll try. It was like cracking open a pinata only to find that you yourself were, in fact, in a larger pinata and that, now outside of it, the world is everything you hoped.

With a couple laps left we caught the pack and Aaron pulled us right to the front. I admired his guts because at that point I just wanted to sit in. We led the pack the next two laps into the sprint, which was a fury of hometown red and white. Aaron and I took first and second and two of our teammates, Ruben Pena and Mark Militello, took third and fourth. Mike Lidwell, a local unattached rider (the kind of guy who uses race medals as coasters) nabbed fifth. The only cloud in the silver lining was my good friend Jason Comstock, who sprints like the one butterfly that's actually causing tsunamis, crashed on the final straightaway and broke his leg.

After the 4/5, the lights cracked on and we all watched our teammate Matt Kessing roar into first, winning the sprint after lapping the field with Will Visser, James Murff and Bert Cross; and then Carlos Vargas lapping the field with the one-sided ease of a bedtime story.