Brentwood Grand Prix Recap and Race Report by Daniel Katz
The Brentwood Grand Prix is a cool race taking place in trendy Westside LA right on San Vicente (luckily we have some trendy guys-have you seen Tosh Clements?). Brentwood was not only the SCNCA State Championships Crit but was sadly our last team race of the year. It was also the first time we raced with a full roster, eight guys primed to show our colors beyond our dazzling kits.
The course is typically hard and windy with two long straights and tricky turns on either end. Michael Valdez, Andrew, Alex, and Tosh would cover the early moves. Bryan and I would sit and wait to cover late threatening moves or set up for a sprint with Steven and Ben. I had room to follow moves early if they were especially dangerous. Ben was the floater, covering a bit of everything.
The danger men to follow were Eric Marcotte, from Elbowz racing, who can ride the break or sprint, Cody O’Reilly, also a Santa Barbara local and Optum Pro (Cody loaned me his bike box to use to take to Elite Nationals in Georgia earlier this year and had helped me on and off with coaching and lifting in the off season-so thanks Cody!), super junior and ultimate nice guy, Alex Darville, as well as guys from the big teams such as Monster Media.
My biggest mistake came 15 minutes before the race start. I decided that achieving the necessary level of excitement for the crit would require quite a bit of caffeine, so a coffee shop stop was imperative. I got in line only to remember, yeah I’m racing, I don’t have my wallet with me so, lacking funds, I left the shop dangerously mellow, the necessary caffeine crystals not coursing through my veins. I sauntered lazily to the line, taking in the sights, sounds, and posturing all along the course.
The race started hard, really hard. I regretted my lazy saunter to the start line and resultant poor starting position. The field kept splitting under the pressure of early attacks and it hurt. Who knew bike racing was hard? I rushed to the front but it still took some time as I didn’t want to spend time off wheels, in the wind. Plus, the necessary receptors weren’t firing properly due to my caffeine deficit. Lost wheels turned into fissures splitting the pack.
Tosh, coming back from a flat tire, was put back into the race by the pit official in a favorable spot between the field and a threatening break that contained Marcotte. Tosh dragged Ben into the break. 15 minutes in, the field was nearly halved and the break was gone. Monster Media had no representation, but the break of nine held at 20 seconds. The break eventually disappeared into the distance, shrouded in barricades, race fans, and that weird homeless guy who shows up to serenade us, belting songs out at the top of his lungs.
Bryan and I went to the front with Andrew, who was at the front all race, to cover moves and stay out of trouble, just in case the break did come back. The break split late in the race into a group of three including Marcotte, O’Reilly and Sandoval, with a chaser in the middle, and then a group of five which included our Ben Bertiger. The front group looked to lap us while the second group was losing ground so I went to the front and tried to slow it down, so maybe, just maybe, Ben’s group would lap us as well. We ran out of time and the front three lapped us in the last set of turns into the finish.
Cody O’Reilly won and Bryan took the sprint from the rest. I wallowed in mediocrity, having trouble getting up to speed after coming off the front when the break lapped us finishing just outside the money. Confusion ensued as the officials thought we had to do one more lap. Nope, the race finishes on the lap of the lead riders.
Ben, was coming over the top in the sprint when he threw his chain and saved himself on the top tube. Rolled from 5th to 9th. Dang. That had to feel good but I’m sure Ben had a ball during his time in the break. We raced well as a team and got dinner at Veggie Grill. We don’t have any beef with our resident vegans but we’ll give them beef.
While I was more than bummed to have to miss the June Stage 17 racing On the Road-esque adventure because of work and health issues, I’m excited we got to cap off a great year. Thanks to our director, Michael Roecklein, his parents for hosting us and helping the team out, thanks to David Gordon for always being there behind the scenes and helping out at the bigger races, team photographer Jordan Haggard, unofficial coach and official tactical director Ashley David Knights Jr., and his local bike shop East West Bikes. Special thanks to all of our sponsors Pactimo, Swiftwick (awesome socks!), IRT Wheels, Time Sport, Superfeet, Thomson, Cytomax, 22 Days Nutrition Bars, and DC Shoes as well as Bike Pure. From Redlands to Augusta, Georgia, and literally everything in between, Stage 17 Racing was there.