First of all, I’d like to thank the team for your full support this weekend. Every one of you (including a spouse!) helped me toward hitting my goal of winning this stage race. All it took from there was me getting my act together and drilling it when it mattered. In my mind, all the training, all the teamwork, all the tactics…it paid off this weekend. Please let me know if I can wash your bike, your dog, your car, or that spot on your back you can’t seem to get..
Stage 1 – a RR with some time bonuses
Plan was to figure out who was a ringer, see how I stacked up on the finish climb. The end of lap 1 had a KOM time bonus and so did the top 3 for the race. I was going to be protected to try and snag these bonuses.
The reality was…there are some STRONG dudes out on the East side. nothing like what we’ve got out here regularly. I tried for the KOM point but failed when a guy sat up in front of me at the line. This pissed me off since I didn’t meet goal #1. Angry, I raged on the front for a while….about half a lap…WAY TOO MUCH, while diesel was yelling at me from the back. They were all trapped and desperately wanted to bitch slap me back into the peloton. I made a huge mistake by pulling the field around, as it took energy out of me in that finish. Connell and Diesel shepherded me around quietly for a while after calling me off. Cemanski was instrumental on that final lap, elbowing his way up the gutter through town to get me to the very front at the base of the climb. He even went beyond his limit and stayed on the front during the start of the climb, dropping me off with a group of hill ninjas. We attacked and counter attacked until the last 800 when that Kaler kid launched a *monstrous* attack off the front. Everyone just melted when they saw that. We launched, but not nearly hard enough to get him. He took that stage and I finished toward the back of that lead group with a weak sauce sprint. I worked too damn hard! arghhhhh 11th in the GC.
Stage 2 – a 30 minute crit in the morning
The plan here was to protect my position, keep me safe, steal some time in the primes, and get me at least a pack finish.
30 minutes is not a long time. In the time you could watch an episode of Robot Chicken, Travis racked up 10 seconds in primetime and I got two seconds. That’s bitchin! because we stole that from the other guys trying to beat me. All the guys kept me safe and we had good communication. This was a scary and fast crit, but we pulled it off. My rear brake was rubbing a bit, so that took some energy from me. I got kinda swamped in the last 2 laps and took 41st overall. Not ideal, but that 2 seconds I won broke me even with the pack time. Now I was 8th in the GC.
Stage 3 – The TT of my life
Knives out. I was going to wreck Tim Smith becase he is fast (that was my plan). The team plan was for me to give the TT absolutely everything I had and I feel as though I did. Todd’s advice on breaking up the TT into 4 sections helped, so did the pre-ride of the course the previous day. I took on the first flat into the wind with death metal ringing in my ears. Then on the hill, I stayed in the aero bars and in the big ring, passing three guys with good speed. For the descent, I just tried to keep the cadence up and the wattage above threshold. A bug flew into my gaping mouth at 40mph and I just screamed in joy. For a bug in the mouth was the most wonderful thing that had happened to me since the start of the TT. It was that miserable for me. Around the corner, I plugged past another guy…kept the cadence up through that last little kicker, took the corner in the drops, and almost got another guy at the line. This was a new record for me. 375w average, good enough for 2nd in cat3 by 4 seconds. (Tim, you jerk!) This would have landed me about 19th in cat1/2. perfect. Now I was 3rd in the GC by 8 seconds!
Stage 4 – 64 miles of fiery hell and running out of water
Travis was up all night strategizing this one and I’m stoked he did this. We developed a tactic with some other guys high in the GC. As usual, tons of kids jumped out in front and put in digs, while we sat in and waited. Kaler, the GC leader found us before the race and asked if we’d play nice on lap 1 and race hard on lap 2. We agreed. Travis put in a killer dig on lap 2 to position me up a hill before the feed zone. Connell and Cemanski were pulling me around the field, keeping me safe, and grabbing water. We all almost got dropped on the first neutral feed zone, as the pack quickly grabbed water and attacked on the descent. We chased like mad to latch back on and did it. The guys were riding super strong and we were burning guys off to get me moved around until that final climb. At the start of lap 2, three guys including Cory went off the front about 40 seconds. We didn’t have enough firepower up front to reel it back and Cory was doing zero work up there. The pack kept the break in check, but never really gained any ground. I screwed up royally by not taking water from Cemanski, who obviously had enough. I ran out at the base of the final climb, which put me on the ropes at the top and I almost popped. almost!
The pack of 21 of us now started infighting, skipping pulls, taking the road 3-wide. It was a cluster#$*@ ‘chase’ and I was saving myself for the sprint. In the last 1k, guys started yelling at eachother to drill it and fought with elbows for position while I sat in the very back. McAllister gave me a gap to shift onto the centerline and I passed about 15 guys in the sprint after the 200m sign. I beat Tim and Kaler (both ahead of me in the GC) but being in that break 10 seconds ahead would have won it for me. I ended up 3rd place in the general classification, which was completely awesome!
I’m impressed by my teammates and their selfless dedication to helping the team succeed. The competition was humbling, to say the least. Speaking of humbling, I’ll be making the move to cat2 this week. Based on my personal goals, my shortened season this year, my fitness, and my support, I believe I’m ready to throw down with these guys and start reporting on what to expect.