TriFecta Day One
“Get in the ‘Burban!” The line doesn’t hold quite the ‘get in the van’ ring, but the trailer is loaded and we hop into cars nonetheless, twenty-five UA Cyclists trained and ready for a weekend of racing at the TriFecta Omnium in Las Cruces, NM.
Fast-forward a few hours to midnight and we’re pulling up at the Big Chili Inn. Staying here has become a club tradition for good reason, and if you’re ever in town you should definitely stop by—the 30-foot chili out front makes it a hard place to miss. We unload the trailer, split into rooms, and a knock at the door brings a bedtime carbo-load of chips and salsa.
The 6:15am alarm goes off and life’s a blur of coffee, food, coffee, trailer packing, coffee, and a quick drive to the ITT. The ‘Burbans are parked in a line, the bikes come off of the trailer and onto trainers, chairs are set in a circle, the boxes of nutrition we won from USAC for having the most growth over last year come out, and I can’t help but think how legit we look. ASU drives by (the six of them fit in a single sedan) and they flash the “pitchfork” and other obscene hand-shapes at us. We laugh.
Veteran roadies conduct pinning school as they verbally instruct new members and mountain bike shredders on proper number placement over the hum of trainers. Flat tires are fixed (thanks, ASU, for the pump), aero helmets come out, and pump-up music blasts. One-by-one, riders are pushed from the start line onto the 20k out-and-back rolling, windy, rain-spitting course. My turn comes, and from inside the pain cave, I yell “Bear Down” at red-and-blue and black-and-gold blurs alike as we cross paths.
Max Rich pulls off the win in the Men’s A ITT, David Carlson takes third and Joey Iuliano fourth. David Greif and Schuyler Burns go one-two in the B’s, and Ryan Brown grabs third in the C’s. I place third in the Women’s A’s, and Jessica Honea wins the B’s.
The ‘Burbans are parked right smack between the TT start and the crit course, so we spend the next couple of hours refueling, resting our feet up on tailgates, foam rolling, and team bonding. Some people study.
Crit time comes and bibs go back on if they came off (it’s one of those borderline do-I-bother-changing situations), some bikes are thrown back onto trainers while others roll around on the frontage road, then the ‘A Men’ line up alongside the P/1/2/3’s for their start.
It’s a six-on-one battle between us and Constantin Schreiber of ASU, but the combined field takes a bit of the advantage away. The horn sounds, feet clip in, and the pack strings out as it makes its way around the mile-long rectangular course. Nathan Franklin makes an attack, and Iuliano joins him. The pair is caught, several prime laps occur consecutively, the final bell rings, and Rich sprints to victory. Constantin manages to grab second, and Andrew Keller’s just behind.
Travis Burkel, David Greif, and Alex Alvarez go 4-5-6 in the Men’s B’s. Brand-new-member-this-week Joseph Shaw wins the Men’s C crit, and is followed in second by Club Pres. Ben Elias on his brand-new-last-week cross bike.
In the Women’s A race, the Pro/1/2/3 field sets the pace off the line, breaking riders apart. I take a turn on the front and am swiftly dropped thereafter. Two ASU girls play it smarter than I, finishing one-two, leaving me once again in third. Jessica Honea, in her second-ever crit, manages to win the pack sprint, placing second overall and first collegiate in the Cat 4/Col B.
With the first day of racing behind us, bikes go back on the trailer, people back in the ‘Burbans, and the need for food beats out the need to shower as we head directly to the lucky chosen local pizza establishment. Various members of the Southwest Conference join us, and we smell up our own little corner of the restaurant as I’m once again amazed at the swiftness of my peers, several of them devouring entire pizzas in a sitting.
At least one of us dozes off at the table.