The 2019 UCLA Road Race

Whoomp, whoomp, whoomp, the steady rhythmic sound came from behind me. If racing wheels had made that distinctive noise it would have come from in front. Dozing I may have been, but still aware enough to recognize the difference. Crow beat her wings against the gravity wall, whoomp, whoomp, ever closer. And then Mike! Mike! she called, fully waking me from my siesta. I watched her rise to the top of the bright hill higher up to my right, join a comrade and, both, sail over and beyond view. I stood to check, gain the view past the rabbit brush providing shelter next to me, peer down the road. Sure enough the next bunch was wheeling around the far turn; it was about 12:45 now and that would be the Pro/1/2 Men heading up my way, leading out the final wave of races today. Far beyond range of my voice now, but I thanked my feather-cloaked alarm for the wake up call.

Leading up to the morning I kept rehearsing, playing through my mind just how cold it was going to be, imagining the great clouds of snow being blown off the mountains by those great gusts of wind as the desert breathed in and out. Imagination shaped by memories of last year. Talking with a California Highway Patrol outrider gave the impression that my imagined picture may have been what it actually was like at the five-in-the-morning course set-up. But, and thank goodness for the but, at 9:00 when I set up camp beside the road, it was quite comfortable (as long as I kept my gloves on) in shorts. As it turns out I don't think conditions could have been any more fine than they turned out to be.

It appeared as though most of the schools in the Western Collegiate Cycling Conference were represented - UC Davis, UC Berkeley, and Stanford from way up north, the San Diego schools - UCSD and SDSU, Cal Poly (though I can never be sure which one), San Jose State, UC Irvine, CSU Fullerton, CSU Long Beach, USC, host UCLA and, of course, the old alma mater UCSB. Non-collegiate racers also came from far and wide for this first road race on the southern California calendar. 

Even under the best of conditions the UCLA road race is a tough course, and it does not take long for individual races to begin disintegrating once racers leave the start line. Some are more ready than others; I don't know what the time gap finished as, but the winner of the 45+ race had a massive lead half way through the race and didn't appear to ever let up. On the other side was the Big Orange rider who could joke "are you filing this under the agony of defeat?" I think you can imagine how his day was going. Different degrees of "being ready" alright. Once you're off the back, you are exposed. I could see lone riders grinding up that hill from a long way off; it is one thing if you are just out on a ride, something else entirely during a race. It is always interesting to see the way people react; some riders turn their head slightly, hiding that far-away look in their eyes, trying to visually close the gap they no longer have any possibility of doing physically, others make the best of the situation, joking, or talking, throwing a Hawaiian Shaka or thumbs-up, a "thanks for coming out today," or popping a wheelie. Everyone is different, but all share the desire to finish what they started. That's the UCLA Road Race, those different degrees are there for all to see.

Thanks to UCLA Cycling for another great race.

sticking together, teammates to the end

I mean... I had to make at least one little snowman before calling it a day.

Selections of 142 photos for the race gallery can be found at 500px here. Unfortunately their method of organizing leaves much to be desired, and they are not really in order. As usual there were many more photos, so if you are looking for someone in particular and do not see them here or in the gallery just let me know.


  1. Great shots! I was the green Simple Green kit in the lead bunch of 5 on the first few laps of the P12 race. I'm wondering if you have anymore photos and how I can get some from you...


Post a Comment