What's Cool In Road Cycling

PEZ-Man Wins Race – Get’s Girl!

Here’s some GOOD NEWS for your Thursday. Our Josh Horowitz planned to propose to his long-time love Rachael at last weekend’s Piuma Hill Clmb in SoCal, but first he had to overcome a strong field, a recently retired Euro-pro, and not knowing if his chalked proposal would stay on the road all night…

Josh picks up the story…
I was starting to feel like the Jan Ulrich of the Piuma Hill Climb, a local mass start hill climb race sponsored by my club, Velo Club La Grange. After a surprise win in the race’s inaugural year, over some much more experienced racers, I had placed 2nd twice and sat out one year due to injury. In this, it’s 5th consecutive running; I knew I had to make something happen. The pressure was on. A nearby club had started a friendly rivalry with us and I had to win, not only for my club, but to preserve my reputation as a top local climber. The pressure was on, the rest of my life depended on it. My life? Oh, I forget to mention that after winning the race, I was going to propose to my girlfriend at the top.

Talk about stress.

Say it with chalk! Will she or won’t she say yes?

Pre-Race Prep
I drove out the night before with a bucket of chalk and wrote out my message. The idea was that Rachael, who rides herself, would come out and ride the course ahead of us and be waiting for me at the top. I assigned a good friend with a camera to ride up with her, and not only make sure she got to the top, but also that she didn’t miss the sign! The plan, if everything went right, was to win the race, drop to one knee on the finish line and propose. But when does everything go right in bicycle racing?

The night before I lay awake thinking off all the little things that could go wrong. What if it rains and washes away the proposal? What if I get a flat? What if she gets a flat? What if she doesn’t feel like climbing all the way to the top and turns around half way? Worst of all, what if I had no legs and didn’t win the race? Of course this wouldn’t completely ruin the plan, but you don’t often hear the story of the prom queen ending up with the third string quarter back.

No small-time race: you never know who’s gonna show up, like a certain Mr. Sciandri – hangin here with Claude Innocenti of club La Grange.

By race time, a group of over 50 had gathered at the base of the climb. Looking around, I noticed two riders in particular. One was a cat 2 racer named Brian Duff – a very strong climber. Rumor had it he was gunning for this race. The other was wearing a full CSC kit. Of course there are always a few wankers who show up to races in their favorite team kits, but in Southern California, you never know who is going to make an appearance. Sure enough, this was Max Sciandri, the recently retired euro-pro (a Pez Interviewee) who used to ride with LaGrange. If he was really going to race, this whole plan might be over before it even started. I would just have to wait and see.

Rachael started heading up the hill and about 15 minutes later, the race started (would 15 minutes be enough time for her to make it to the top ahead of us?). It started off slow with a few short-lived attacks. Feeling good, I kicked a couple times and was surprised to see the main group of 20 dwindling to just 3. Finally, it was just Duff and I with no one else in sight. I guess Max was content to ride back in the group. Duff looked like he was really suffering, but was it a ruse? I tried a few more attacks and he stayed with me each time.

The moment of truth…

Suddenly, I saw something up the road. It was Rachael! She hadn’t come to my message yet so I figured the plan wasn’t completely ruined. I would just have to wait at the top until she got there. I waved hello and we continued to climb. Duff promised that if I let him sit on my wheel, he would not contest the sprint, but this was too important of a day to leave anything to chance. With 2 km to go, I took off and soloed to the finish, winning by a margin of over 2 minutes.

Phase one complete.

After I caught my breath, I began the wait. 10 minutes later, in the far off distance, I saw Rachael approach the final switch back where the message was written. She stayed there for what seemed like an eternity. I stood at the finish line, with 5 or 6 race photographers all ready to capture the moment. In the background, 40 or 50 members of the club were looking on. When she finally made it across, I dropped to one knee and gave her the ring. She was crying, laughing, shaking, it was exactly the moment I had dreamed of.

Isn’t love grand? We say it is!

This is why I race bikes. To share a moment with such a great community of friends, teammates and competitors is truly unforgettable.

And by the way, she said yes.

So Josh – when’s the big day – and how about a PEZ-Clusive web-cast of the nuptials?

Josh Horowitz is a category 1 racer and a USCF licensed coach. His Los Angeles-based company, Liquid Fitness, coaches cyclist of all levels from State Champions to Century Riders. To contact him, e-mail [email protected] or check him out on the web at www.LiquidFitness.com or at the team website:

Like PEZ? Why not subscribe to our weekly newsletter to receive updates and reminders on what's cool in road cycling?

Comments are closed.