Bicycles, birthdays, and burning rubber… what could be better?

By Michael Nystrom

Zach Thompson

Zach Thompson during Sunday’s Morgan Hill Crit. Photo by Gilbert Marquez’s mom.

This weekend six HSU cyclists headed down to Paicines and Morgan Hill, Calif. to compete in Stanford’s home road race and criterium. Continuing our weekend race pilgrimage, we loaded our cars to the brim and drove six hours south to Hollister. We somehow managed to stuff ourselves and our bikes into a single hotel room for a tight, but well-needed, night of rest before the next morning’s race.

After an early alarm and a few groans, the weekend festivities began.  Not only did we have a big day of racing, but we also celebrated our teammate’s, Nancy Vargas, 22nd birthday.

Saturday’s out-and-back road race in Paicines followed Panoche Valley Road and featured rolling hills, sweeping descents, and strong headwinds on the return journey. Gilbert Marquez, Zachary Thompson and I represented HSU in the Men’s D category and finished our second-ever road race. Jason Covey and Alvin Garlejo competed in the Men’s B category and finished around the middle of the pack. After being dropped on a descent, Jason worked with six other riders—ultimately dropping five of them—to rejoin the field.  His effort cost him the sprint and he finished 14th in a field of 33. Nancy Vargas finished fifth in the Women’s C road race. When I passed her after the turnaround, she was leading the field up the tough Panoche Pass climb trying to catch a break away rider from UC Santa Cruz.

Saturday night’s birthday celebration at the Covey house. Photo by Jason Covey.

After the race, Jason’s parents were gracious enough to allow the team to spend the night at their home in San Jose. Champaign, beer, Nutella, and red velvet cake (a.k.a. “recovery food”) was passed around to celebrate Nancy’s birthday. It’s a good thing we are cyclists and not singers—having five guys sing happy birthday sounded like a somber Celtic feudal song.

Sunday morning’s criterium took place at the Specialized Bicycle headquarters in Morgan Hill and featured an interesting chicane after turn four. Zach, Gilbert, and I competed in the Men’s D, 30-minute race to start off the morning.  Nancy took on the other Women’s C racers and finished in a strong third place after bridging the gap to a breakaway rider from Davis. Alvin and Jason finished together in the Men’s B criterium towards the middle of the pack. Next week the HSU cycling team heads to UC Berkeley.

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