By Tayler Wiles
I was so excited to see the women’s stage race return to Merco Cycling Classic this year! When I raced the Merced Irrigation District road race in 2011 it was my very first race as a professional and it is still one of my favorite courses. Today was my first race with Specialized lululemon and all I can really say is how much I love my teammates. I have never laughed so much at a bike race and had so much fun on my bike as I did today. The team raced perfectly with Ally and Ina covering early moves, setting Evie and I up perfectly for the climbs. Alison Powers put in a big digger over the top of the climb on the second lap splitting the field and forming a 5 man breakaway with Evie, Andrea Dvorak, Lauren Hall, and I.
Evie lived up to her slogan, “Evie will attack!” as she shot out of a cannon the last time up the climb. I sat on Powers’ wheel as she tried to close the gap to Evie. Once we got within 30ft of Evie I attacked on a little kicker, and Evie and I rode off into the sunset!;) Ok not really but it was pretty AH-MAY-ZING! (Yes Euro teammies, that was for you!)
Coming into the finish Evie and I masterfully planned our post up (please see picture)…however in the joy of the moment we forgot to take into account the mirror image! Evie did a beautiful S (for Specialized!), and I did an awkward looking one-handed L (for lululemon!). I thought it was brilliant, until I saw the picture and realized the S and L were backwards! Either way it was an incredible day. Rolling across the finish line with a teammate has got to be one of the best feelings there is!
Tonight at a dinner provided by the Merco organizers we were lucky enough to hear from the legend Davis Phinney. Wow, what a role model. I was touched by his story and by the support he gave for women’s cycling. We were all really honored to hear Davis Speak, and I know it meant a great deal to everyone there. I want to send out a big thank you to the Phinney family for all of the incredible things they do for the sport of cycling.