On Saturday August 15th, the fastest road and track riders around went to battle in DTLA. Wolfpack Hustle's third Civic Center Crit had a start/finish line directly in front of the towering edifice of City Hall which lent the races a truly epic feel. The Pure Fix Race team was there in full force and ready to compete against a lineup of extremely talented riders. In this post, team captain Jason Rivera takes us through the day...
The day began with some breakfast in Silver Lake and enjoying the morning breeze at an outdoor cafe. It was one of those typical "calm before the storm" moments where everything was just right enough for me to lose all nervousness. When I made it to the athlete's zone, I roasted in the hot sun while waiting for my co-worker Anthony to drop off our tent and supplies. A few hours passed and the zone filled up with cyclists of all ethnicities, disciplines, and sponsorships. I talked to many of the of the racers that I've gone into battle with over the last year, and they all had that hopeful feeling of being in contention for the final race.
Once the whole team assembled under the team tent, I took everyone out to test the hair-pin turns and see what parts of the course would be suited to each rider's strengths. We had our qualifying heat at 5pm, so we had plenty of time for a great warm up courtesy of our sponsor Pure Fix providing the tent, rollers, and trainers. The team had a positive vibe overall, even when the last few minutes for qualifiers where ticking away. Once at the starting line we gave each other one more "good luck" just so that nothing bad would happen to us. During our 4 lap qualifier we had people jump into our pace line or get in our way during the hair pin turns but we managed to bounce back from all that madness with a strong final effort.
Once our heat was over, our nerves started getting the best of us and we were glued to our phones for updates on how we did. Once all the heats where finished, 4 of the 6 of us had qualified for the final heat. The team finally got in and the two who didn't make it were slightly disappointed, then immediately humbled by the fact that they contributed to getting most of us into the final round. I strongly believe in team work and having them stick to the plan gave me hope for future races. Im not an amazing captain but I hope that my efforts to keep the team happy and strong are enough. While waiting for the final race I talked to a lot of racers to see how they did and if they qualified. Some who qualified surprised me with awesome times while others had me in awe because they didn't make the finals list. Anything can happen in these races, expect the unexpected.
Night fell and the air was still hot from the extreme heat Los Angeles has been dealing with. We where all ready to line up for the final battle. The team was all lined up at the back of the field and ready make up some ground so that we could finally show off our skills. Once the bell rang for us to make our first moves, there was a huge pile up of 15-20+ cyclists on the floor. I managed to squeeze through and attack the first lap with all I had. The organizer made a conscious decision to do a restart on the race due to how many people fell during the first few seconds of the race.
Now that we had gotten a taste of the mayhem that was about to commence, we hit the starting block and began again. The first few laps I clocked myself hitting 28+ miles per hour to make up some ground. By mile 6 I reached the lead pack and hung on with whatever energy I had left. Passing over 60 cyclist and multiple crashes during each lap really took a toll on my body, making it hard for me to get the recovery I needed. I was running 90 gear inches which gave me a good top speed but, with the amount of attacks that were happening in the front, I was losing ground after a few minutes with the lead pack. My body was giving out on me with the worst chest pains I've ever felt in a race. The pace was high and I realized that I burned all my matches just to make it up with the top pack.
One moment that still runs through my head was hitting the hair pin turn before the finish line and seeing a 10 bike pile up, with a lot of luck and some skill I managed to squeeze through an open space that wasn't already taken by fallen cyclists or broken bikes. I've never been in a race with so many crashes before but what can you expect after the first few seconds there was a major crash? In the last ten minutes of the race I got pulled out because of almost getting lapped, and I was fine with how I faired in this race. I 'm not ecstatic with my results, but I can see a lot of growth in myself and the team since last year.
Our team had given it their all. One of our guys was taken out in a crash and left with minor injuries. I was proud that we all stuck together till the very end. "Until the next race", we told each other...