This is a race I had not initially planned to do. This type of race would be won from putting in the most power at the very start, which has been something that I've been avoiding due to an injury to my lower back. The enthusiasm of people believing I could win paired with my teammate Hern egging me on convinced me to race it. I took into account the length of the course and how I wanted to race it in my gear selection. Another Predator rider Sammy gave me a ride to the race and almost got lost after sighting the starting end of Second Street tunnel. After parking and riding in we couldn't believe how vast the crowd was and how the tunnel was actually shut down for us to race. Sammy immediately went to register t0 race hoping for a spot as the online pre-registration had been filled for weeks. Wasting no time we both got warmed up on rollers and a couple standing starts. As race favorites we got interviewed while warming up. We both kept warm until 3 rides before the beginning of the fifth heat. I came to line stretching, breathing, and focused solely on going straight. Aram held my bike while I clipped in, strapped in and took a few deep breaths all the while focusing on going in a straight line as fast as physically possible. Keiron, the race marshall counted down and I was off with a good start. I qualified with the fastest time of the night. L.A. Times, along with many other people stopped me for interviews as I headed back to the start line to cool down. The riders with the top qualifying times were invited to hang out on a throne over-looking the finish line. I watched the rest of the race unfold with teammate James who had qualified with second fastest time. When the qualifying heats approached their end I headed back to the rollers to prepare myself for the races in front of me.
The women started their heats before us and had already gotten to the quarter finals when I began the men's heats. I had a great start off the line and had dropped my opponent half way to the finish and was able to lay off, and I just held the gap to the finish line. When I got back to the start line I found out that Jack Lindquist was disqualified for crossing over to the opponents side. I couldn't believe it and didn't want it to be true. I had been looking forward to racing him. My second race was up against Bud, with another great start and had him beat three quarters of the way to the finish. My back had begun to ache so I hoped the night would hurry up and finish. I was also starting to have trouble staying awake because of how late the hour was. I just had to keep popping my energy filled raisins until the finish. My third race was up, Aram walked my bike to the starting line and as I began my routine Sammy told me not to smile as he took photos of me. I couldn't help but smile until Keiron started the count down. I gunned it until I looked under my arm and saw I was beating my opponent by three quarters of the way down. So I softened my pedal stroke and kept my eyes on him until the finish line. As I headed back to the start line I got many hugs, cheers, photos, and jokes. I even had a huge support crowd from the LA Bike Polo crew cheering me on. It felt really good to have everyone cheering for me but I wanted it to be over with because of my back aching with more pain than before.
When I got to the start line I found out I would be racing my teammate James Zaldua in the finals. I rolled around to stay warm and congratulated him on making it to the finals. "The Final Effin Sayso" as Don called it, arrived with Keiron calling James and me to the line. I was focused, there was no energy to save in this one and it was my time. Keiron counted down from three I was out of the saddle on two and focused on going straight on one. When he yelled go I threw my body forward, pushing down with one foot and pulling up with the other with stiff arms directing all my power to my rear wheel to save no energy. We were off and I kept focused on going straight and reaching the finish line first. Three quarters of the way I took a quick glance too see I had a lead but I know never to underestimate a Zaldua. I kept going and with 25 meters to the line I started to smile, at that point I knew I won. I finished strong and barely could hold in my smile with my back aching and tired, the crowd was going crazy. As James and I rolled into the finish we were greeted by a huge crowd cheering and a cop stopping traffic for us. I got to the podium area with cameras everywhere and cheeks hurting more than my back because I couldn't stop smiling. Don called me to the podium as I adjusted my hat for my sponsor Predator Cycling. My arms went up with James Zaldua in 2nd and Tony Zaldua in 3rd with flashes from everywhere. Don awarded me with the DOG TAGS that "Lance Armstrong doesn't even have" I got bowled for the first time in my life with ice gold gatorade. I was freezing after that until I got the Best Sprinter Jersey by Brandt-Sorenson, which I put on immediately. The jersey fit perfectly because it was tailored to my measurements, as I was the favorite to win. Then Don kept handing my prizes one after another until my bag broke and I had to put all my prizes into a bag I won. After receiving all my prizes Beatriz Rodriguez, the winner of the women's division, and I both stood on the Throne for photos. Thanks to everyone that showed up to race and cheer especially the whole Wolfpack Hustle Crew that ran everything smoothly. Also huge thanks to my sponsor Aram of Predator Cycling and H&S Bicycles. Photos in the top slider are by Samson Hatae you can see more of this work here Wolfpack Drag Race 2012 Photos in the body are by Pat Benson