Trying to figure out USA cycling’s ranking system is like trying to understand why the sky is blue – some get it, others don’t, most just give up trying. My search for answers brought me to the city of angels – Los Angeles- for the UCI race in downtown LA, part of Cross After Dark. I had originally intended to enter master’s race, then jump in with the pros and get some points to help my cause – getting a better start position at Nats/Worlds. See, most of the racing in Northern California is not USAC sanctioned, so we get no points towards call ups at the big races. This is a problem. Traveling all the way to Nationals, racing in waist deep snow and starting at the back with no chance of ever seeing the front = not so much fun.
LA turned out to be a mixed blessing, like mixing gasoline with fire. That type of mixing. A huge Pacific storm rolled through all of California and dumped a considerable amount of rain in the days before the race. If you have ever been to LA you know that it doesn’t rain often and if any city is not ready for rain, then this is the city. The course was located in LA State Park which was touted as being in downtown LA. I couldn’t believe that a park could be in downtown LA, but it was no lie. Right at the base of Chinatown and the run up to Dodger stadium.
The course consisted of mostly wood chips mixed with a little grass. They plowed a course through the wood chips, which when mixed with rain produced a interesting ice rink. Because it was called “Cross After Dark” the master’s riders were guaranteed a race that didn’t really happen at night. The pros go at night. We take dusk. Not a big field and not a great ride by me made for not a great day. I skipped the pro race when it started to rain in torrents. Yes, this is Southern California.
Instead I got lucky and found out that one of the most famous restaurants in all of the US was only a few blocks away. I couldn’t resist. Phillipe’s has been there since 190-something and is the origin of the French Dip. It has always been on my bucket list and I had to check it off. The food is not the only allure to Phillipe’s. The cafeteria style seating allows you to saddle up to some interesting people. I struck up a conversation with an older gentlemen who had been coming to Phillipe’s since 1920. His dad would take him on the weekends – all the way from Pasadena. Back then he said the first freeway in the US was built from Pasadena to downtown LA. No traffic lights and exits! Imagine that. We couldn’t imagine life without it now. He had stories about every eclectic thing in the place. He had met mayors, movie stars and even Tommy Lasorda in all his years coming to Phillipe’s. You don’t get this type of conversation when you order room service. So when down in LA check it out….
Back to the racing… or not. Still haven’t figured out ranking system, but that won’t stop me from racing. I did figure out that you need to get the “roast beef, double dipped” when you are at Phillipe’s next time. Enjoy!