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Editor’s note: VeloNews’ newest online rider diarist is domestic pro Phil Gaimon of Kenda-Geargrinder. Gaimon already is well known to readers of VeloNews magazine as the author of one of our most popular (and funniest) features: Ask a Pro.
The team started the season with a bang at San Dimas last month. Ben Day, who’s mostly appreciated for having the second-funniest accent on the team (behind Luca Damiani), proved his other talent: winning time trials (I finished ninth). In exchange for his thirteen minutes of hard riding, Ben got to sit behind us pedaling easy (like a princess) for the rest of the weekend as we defended the jersey.
For the road race and crit, it was all Kenda, all the time, chasing dudes down. Most of us had never done that job before, but we learned as we went with help from the veterans, and Ben brought home the team’s first stage race victory.
Redlands didn’t quite work out as planned. Ben and I ended up top-20 in the prologue, which made GC victory a tall order. We went for it in the Beaumont Road Race, with myself and Roman Kilun in the early break, which put me in virtual yellow for most of the 200k, 90+ degree scorcher of a stage. That bid for glory ended when the fresh legs of Andres Diaz (Exergy) came across and ripped the break apart (wearing arm warmers, by the way, because apparently in Colombia anything less than 110 degrees is unacceptable). Shawn Milne managed fifth on the stage, and I limped onto the podium to take the KOM jersey, a solid consolation prize. We were all white as ghosts at the finish, covered in salt from the heat.
The biggest disappointment of that day, though, was that with the heat delirium, my elaborate April Fool’s plan was abandoned, in favor of chugging Nuun in an-conditioned van. Our plan was to call the team owner and tell him we were involved in a road rage incident with a local while riding back to the car after the stage, Jim Stemper was in jail for assault and battery, and the motorist had crushed two bikes with his pickup.
Instead of freaking out Chad Thompson, the only April Fool’s victim was yours truly, when Roman Kilun, who’s a jerk, had the idea to hide my shoes before the start. Mercifully, the guys gave them back in less than a minute, but I had already thought of a half-dozen ways to kill myself.
The final two stages were filled with more close calls, like Isaac Howe crashing out of a certain podium (and a good shot at the win) in the last turn of the criterium, my loss of the KOM jersey when John Bennett (Cal Giant) made every break of the day in the final stage (the dude was everywhere I looked, like some sort of nightmare), and Jim Stemper’s late break later that day, which was swallowed up with two corners to go in the finishing circuit. Ben finished 11th overall, missing half of his butt from a crash in the crit, while Luca slipped in for a solid third on the stage, unofficially winning the funny accent omnium with the points from that result.
Overall, not a bad season opener for the team, with one big win, and edging closer to more. Kenda-5 Hour Energy p/b GearGrinder (sorry for the mouthful, but they all pay for it) is on the map! Next stop for the team is Speedweek. For me: Gila and the Tour of California. Come by the trailer if you need some energy in 5-hour increments. If you need three hours of energy, we can’t help you.
P.S. Ben: sorry about the princess thing. Roman: I’m totally serious. You’re a jerk.
Phil is a 25-year-old VeloNews columnist and third-year pro racer for Kenda-5 Hr Energy Presented by Gear Grinder. He has an English degree from the University of Florida, and owns online stores at podiumcycling.com and sharethedamnroad.com.