Elite national championships

This happened last week. As in the day before yesterday and a few days before that. I’m almost caught up on my blogging race reports. As you may have noticed, I haven’t been blogging that much this year. I’ve gone over the reasons before. But I have noticed that I don’t remember anything that I don’t write down, so I have huge gaps in my memory this year, along with huge gaps in my blog. The problem is, writing events down is like taking a picture. You don’t remember what you actually saw, you remember what the picture shows. With writing, I remember what I wrote, not what actually happened.  Not that I make things up or anything on here… So with that in mind (and it’s only in mind because I wrote it down up there in that other paragraph) I’ve decided to try to write more in this blog so I can remember things more good.  On to the good part: Well, not the good part.  The good part is the pictures.  When I used to read other people’s blogs, I’d only read the words briefly and then look at the pictures.  Same thing goes for a book with pictures.  The words are just filler.  So, on with the second best good part: Day 1: I’m counting day 1 as Monday, the day Sean and I waited around in the airport for a full day and flying from one coast to the other while we made our way to Portland from Minnesota.  I pretty much just explained this day.  Plus we drove to Bend once we got to Portland.  We got there late.  1:30am.  Plus we were on midwest time so it was more like 3:30am.  I slept in Sean’s sister’s bed.  She was not in it.  Dang. Day 2: Sean and I went on an easy ride.  I felt terrible.  My cold was just about gone by then, actually it would be gone in another day, but my legs felt terrible anyways from all the racing and traveling.  Sean’s didn’t feel good either, but once he found out how bad mine felt, he tried to put the hammer down just a little.  Plus he was on his TT bike.  This is what teammates are for.  Later that evening, Lang, Phil, and Sam showed up in the team van and picked me up and we all went across town to our host house. Day 3: I won the sleeping contest, logging a full 11+ hours.  We played a lot of video games today.  In the morning though, I rode over to Quinn’s RV, which was parked near the TT and road race course, and hung out while he made some strange concoction of coffee/thai food.  I’m not sure what it was, but it was breakfast for a hungry Quinner, who hadn’t showered since Saturday?  I cut my toenails in someone’s lawn that Quinn was parked in front of.  Then we went on a ride around the road course.  It was sunny and warm again, like the day before.  My legs were feeling less terrible.  I rode home and ate and played video games and made jokes with the rest of the guys about Spencer’s mother.  Spencer is on our team but isn’t at most races with us.  We like Spencer.  But we like his mom better.  Spencer is from Canada.  I can’t remember who has access to this blog other than my mom and both my grandmothers. Day 4: Lang and I rode out to cheer on our teammates at the time trial course.  Neither of us raced it, since we were pretty sure neither of us would place in the top 10.  Sam placed 10th, although to him it was a disappointment since he was hoping for a top 3 or a win.  Later, Lang and I rode the road race course again, my legs felt very good today.  I did an effort on the main climb of the race and dropped a junior who had been drafting off of us for the entire lap and had never said a word to us.  Lang rode up easy.  Lang is a whimp.  Not really though. Day 5: Race day!  Phill, Lang, and I did the road race course again in the morning, played some video games in the afternoon, and rode our bikes out to the crit course in the evening.  It was a 50 mile crit, starting at 7:30pm.  There was a good crowd, but not humungous like the USAC brochure assured us it would be.  Doesn’t matter though, I got about 20 gatorade bars from them during my sign in the previous day. The race started, I attacked on the 3rd lap.  Didn’t get away.  Attacked again a little later and didn’t get away.  Then I drifted to about 50 guys back and started day dreaming because the race was so boring and it was so easy to sit in.  Another 90 minutes to go.  I moved up eventually and threw in a BIG attack and got away for a lap and a half by myself.  Apparently there were like 8 guys trying to bridge up to me, and Joe yelled this to me as I went by him, but they and I were all caught before we hooked up.  This crit course was stupid.  4 corners, completely flat.  My legs were feeling very good, but there was nothing I could do.  Nothing anyone could do.  It was simply too easy of a course to sit in, making breakaways very hard.  So it came down to a bunch sprint.  I think there were only about 30-40 guys left in the pack with 4 laps to go.  I was towards the front of it, about 15 back.  On corner 3, a couple guys crashed.  I braked and rode into them, hoping off my bike somehow and landing on my feet.  A couple more guys crashed behind me and on top of my bike.  By the time I got my bike free, the peloton was long gone and there were no more free laps.  I sprinted for a half lap, then gave up.  I was pulled a lap later.  I was so mad I threw a little tantrum back in an ally way.  There was nothing to punch.  Nothing to smash.  So I didn’t.  I calmed down a bit and watched the finish.  I swore under my breath at the guy who won.  At all the racers who finished.  I got my wheel trued by Shimano and met up with the team.  No one had done well in the sprint.  Later, some drunk hooligans tried to tell Quinn and I that it was rude to stop in the middle of the sidewalk right in front of them as they were walking.  I said some things back, hoping they’d retaliate.  They did not.  I was still furious apparently.  It was ptich black as we rode home, Quinn coming along for dinner not served out of a can.  Some guys on motorcycles cut me off and I swore at them loudly, still furious and wanting to punch something.  We got home and ate and I finally wasn’t mad anymore at those idiots who crashed me out.  Then Phill and I played video games until 1am.  Violent video games of course. Day 6: Woke up late.  The entire nationals  team went on a ride, except for Sean.  Guess where we rode.  The road race course.  Even after doing it for four days in a row, the same 2 hour loop, I still wasn’t bored with it.  Sam and I broke off and left the others guys part way through.  We went to the finish area and practiced the final 300 meters with the round a bout turn.  Then we sat in the grass in the sun for a while, then rolled through a small farmer’s market, and eventually made our way to a coffee shop and played a game of chess.  Then rode home.  Eventually the day was over after eating, laying around the house, and of course, playing video games. Day7: At last, the day we’ve all been waiting for.  The road race.  Winning here or getting top 3 could mean a spot on a pro team the following year.  I salivated.  We all salivated.  The previous day, we had a team meeting with Joe and he decided that Sean, Phill, and I would attack early and Sam, Lang, and Chris would save themselves for the end.  I didn’t like this plan, because it meant that I would most likely have a bad finish.  But it’s a team and the team pays for me to fly and race races I wouldn’t get to otherwise, so I obeyed.  I attacked immediately, once the neutral 2 kilometers were over.  I unleashed a sprint, sat down, put my head down for 400 more meters, then looked behind to see the damage.  One guy was on my wheel: Galen Mitterman, my old rowing coach and fellow Eugeneian, one of the few other Oregonian’s in the race.  We both smiled at each other and he said, “No regrets.”  We traded pulls for a bit and then Donald Reeb pulled up with us (another Oregonian).  The three of us went fairly hard for a half lap before getting caught by a big group of 9 guys, including my teammate Sean.  “Sean we done good!!!”–is what I immediately thought.  The break, now 12 strong and 2 minutes up the road, was exactly where I wanted to be.  Everyone was working and our gap was growing.  Every big team except Exergy had guys in it, with Yahoo! and us being the only teams with two guys in it.  For a second there, I thought we might stay away all the way to the end.  But half a lap later, there were only 5 or 6 of us taking pulls.  Joe came up to us and told me to sit on and for Sean to keep rotating through in the pace line.  So I sat.  And sat.  And half a lap later when Sean and three other guys got a tiny gap because no one else wanted to pull through on the feed zone climb,–I still sat.

We all watched as the four of them slowly rode away from us.  Anyone could have bridged across but no one did.  At the top of the climb, two guys went off after them.  Now it was just four of us in the last group.  I continued to sit in, along with a Yahoo guy, while the other two did all the work.  At the top of the climb the Yahoo guy and I started working to pull back the two guys in pursuit of the four up the road.  We didn’t work very hard though.  The four of us eventually caught them.  Now our gap was only a minute to the pack and 2 minutes to the lead break.  We were doomed unless the four guys without teammates up the road really started pulling hard. They did not.  And shortly after 2.5 laps, I flatted.  No wheel car came until after the main field passed me.  I drafted Joe in the team car back to the pack and sat in for a long long time, very angry.  We had three and a half laps to go.  Within a half lap, the group I was in was caught.  Within one more lap, Sean’s group was caught.  Now the pace started to get higher on the climbs.  I worried about positioning and tried to stay near the front coming into the feed zone climb, the tailwind section at the top of that, and the steep climb afterwards.  With two times to go up the feed zone climb, the field broke apart a bit.  Olheiser attacked and got away and somehow soloed for the win over the next lap and a half.  Not humanly possible for a non-world champion in my opinion.  Oh wait, he’s the 30+ world champion.  Still, not humanly possible in my opinion.  Anyways, breaks tried and failed to get any permanent grounds on the field.  Lang tried hard.  Quinn tried hard.  Nothing could stick.  We went up the feed zone climb and the field shattered even more.  I was still in there, to my disbelief.  I was starting to fantasize about the finish just a little.  But not for long because the pace on the tailwind section was brutal, and the steep climb after it was brutal too.  I took a corner hot on the downhill before the climb and hit a big chunk of gravel and my rear wheel slid out.  I swore.  And stayed upright.  I wasn’t sure if my tire was still holding air though.  Nothing I could do about it now though.  The pace up the steep climb was hard, but not too bad.  The field shattered even more, and by the top of the climb and the short downhill and the climb after it, there were only 20 of us left.  Maybe less.  With 3K to go, some guys attacked at the top of a little riser.  I was too far back to respond, and didn’t think it was worth responding anyways since they would surely be chased down immediately.  They were not.  And they stayed away to the finish by a few seconds.  In fact, the last of them only stayed away by 1 second.  2k to go and I was at the back of what was left of our group of 6? 10?  15?  I don’t know.  Gaps opened going up the false flat as we sped towards the finish at 30mph.  One opened in front of Lang and I yelled for him to close it.  He did, and I followed his wheel around the roundabout.  I hadn’t felt any pain whatsoever in the last 2K.  And with 250 meters to go, I still did not.  And I unleashed a wicked sprint and passed about 6 guys like they were standing still.  At the finish line I had multiple bike lengths from me to the next guy behind me.  But it was only good enough for 9th.  The seven guys in front had stayed away by a few seconds, including my teammate Chris, and Mike Olheiser stayed away by himself to win by almost a minute.  I was immediately happy, relieved to have made it to the end and gotten a chance to sprint, but also immediately pissed at myself for not following the attack at 3K to go.  I could have stayed with it, no problem.  Yes, I was suffering and tired by then, but I certainly could have pushed out another 80 watts over the too of that 3k to go riser and stayed with the move.  And I don’t mean to sound cocky, but there is no one in the world who could have beaten me at that last 250 meter sprint.  Not even a fully fresh Cavendish who only had to race 250 meters and hadn’t done the other 99 miles of the race.  Not even a wagon team of clydesdales fueled by genetically modified oats–designed to create mutant-strength farts, which were lighted by a spark mechanism attached to their tails, creating a rocket boost to launch them into outer space.  No one could have beaten me in that damn sprint I know it!!! Damn it why didn’t I just follow that move!!!!???  It wouldn’t have been for the win, but it would at least have been for 2nd!!

I should be happy, especially since I was in the early break of the day for almost half the race.  9th at nationals is by far the biggest result of my life.  Only 8 non-pros in the country were ‘faster’ than me that day.  But, unless you win you’ll always be left wanting.

pictures to come later.

And by the way, Chris finished 6th and Lang finished 15th.  We had 3 guys in the top 15, which no other team had.  Plus Sean got plenty of exposure in the breakaway and made it possible for our team to sit in for the first half of the race, while other teams were forced to work at the front.  All in all, the whole team agrees that this was the best single day race we’ve done this year.  This race and our team GC win at Mt. Hood have stood out as our best team races so far, with everyone chipping in and racing super aggressively.  The next big one is the Boise Twilight crit, then Cascade Classic, where I plan on getting some redemption on that final stage.

The video game room.

Yes, this is the Killcam.

Lang, enjoying some delicious fruit by the foot.

Jimbo.

Sean’s GQ pose.

Eli

Sam wasn’t happy with his 10th in the TT (almost anyone else would have been ecstatic). Don’t worry Sam, you’re still my friend.

Lang, as he flexes his abs as much as possible: “Kennett, take a picture of me.”


Our host family made us dinner.

Tommy T at his best.

A link to a pic of me off the front in the crit:

http://www.wheelsinfocus.com/2010/Nats/M/pages/903C1009jpgnats.htm

Another one:

http://www.wheelsinfocus.com/2010/Nats/M/pages/903C1024jpgnats.html

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