2018 Dana Point Grand Prix: GO!

To say it had been a while since my last visit to Dana Point was a bit of an understatement - four years is a good chunk of time. I was overdue, and the annual running of the bicyclists in that fair coastal city up on the bluffs was as good a reason to visit as any formal invitation might have provided.

From its inception the Dana Point Grand Prix has been one to the bigger-prestige one-day races on the local calendar, up there with the grandaddy of them, just up the coast a bit, in Manhattan Beach. Part of the reason the Dana Point GP succeeds year after year is, as I have harped on time and again, community involvement - the people come out and actively participate. Whether through sponsorship support, serving as course marshals, or simply setting up tables and chairs in the front yard and cheering as the race passes by lap after lap, the race would undoubtedly lack the energy it has if not for the locals who get involved.

Good racing does not exactly hinder things either - for many, Dana Point would be the crown among their palmares. Then there are the racers like Coryn Rivera, who have gone on to even bigger and better in Europe and abroad, but still consider the Grand Prix worthy of their time and effort. Nothing energizes a crowd quite like a hometown hero and, though maybe not a Dana Point native, Southern Californian Rivera (Team Sunweb) did just that. With multiple multiple (many, in other words) national titles to her name, as well and wins and placings in many of the biggest races across the country and in Europe, Rivera is among the most accomplished active women racers in the states today.

The women's professional race was as good a one as I have seen throughout its duration, but really came alive along the finish straight with three, two and one lap to go. I don't know if I was standing next to a group of family there to support Rivera or someone else contesting at the front of the race, but when the group came through on each of those laps boy was there a dramatic increase in volume. In the end though, it was not Rivera who claimed the thunder, and the win, but rising star Megan Jastrab (Cademy), and also of Southern California, who shot away from the head of the field to win by several bike lengths.  Valentina Scandolora (Roxsolt / Attaquer) finished 2nd, with Rivera coming in 3rd.

Though the Cat 4 race was, surprisingly, underwhelming (where was everyone on Sunday) the Masters races and the Cat 2/3 race were every bit as exciting as they ever are - fast paced, a lot of strategy, break attempts, chases, and the inevitable sprints. 

I really did not need an excuse to visit Dana Point the weekend past, but the excitement of the Grand Prix made it extra worthwhile. I even got an early jump on the Christmas shopping - assuming I don't keep it for myself).

Got his stars and stripes jersey and 5th Marines warpaint, and ready to race

I found it rather difficult to make the selections for the album and because of that, the 202 photos (Masters 45+/50+ races, the Cat 2/3, Kids, Cat 4, Masters 35+/40+, and from the Women Pro/1/2 races) that were selected make it one of the larger race albums in the collection.