Tour of Walla Walla, Stages 1 and dose.

Stage 1.  65 mile road race.  The day started with a big climb that we rolled up nice and slow and neutralized that took about 15 minutes.  I was feeling pretty fresh.  Ready to crush some Bs come later in the race.  I planned on NOT going with the first move.  And also NOT sitting in and being lazy.  I planned on attacking at a smart time and making my matches count for once.  The calm before the storm had a metophorical and physical meaning as we soft pedaled behind the lead car.  As we rolled across the top of the climb and the race whistle sounded, the temperature immediately began plummeting from the comfortable 60 degrees to something quite a bit nastier.  The wind picked up too (though that may have been because of the fast descent).  Storm clouds gathered overhead and began teasing us with small, cold bits of spittle.

The calm of the neutralized race vanished with the cresting of the hill too and attacks began hitting out on the front as cat 1’s and 2’s weaved and rocked their bikes like epileptic cat 5’s.  With all the sketchiness present I felt like I was in a beginner’s drawing class.  Downhill attacks are the best, especially when you sit up right after you attack as you see the whole field coasting on your wheel.  They usually work really well because one minute you’re not pedaling at all and your saving up all this energy, and the next you’re attacking and can punch out way more watts than you’d be able to if the pace had been consistently hard, like say on a climb.  Usually races are won on downhill attacks.

My race was not won on a downhill attack, but I did lose it because of one gone wrong.  I was coasting in the middle of the pack, not too far back, when up ahead I saw the slamming on of breaks and the smell of terror as bikes and bodies began hurtling through the air, piling up directly in my path.  There was no avoiding it from where I was.  I slowed down but went right into someone’s chest (they were lying down already) and I went up and over the bars.  I felt my foot pop out of my shoe as I was upside down, heading for the pavement.  I clearly remember hoping no one would run over my foot as I came to a halt and tucked my head in my arms as people crashed around me.   All this carnage just because some idiot touched the wheel in front of him as they looked back after coming across a tiny gap (he probably thought he had the race in the bag after bravely soloing that tiny gap and geniusly placing himself in a perfect top 10 spot with only 63 miles left to race).  Little did he know that his careless move would see multiple people being carted away to the hospital, and even worse: the destruction of MY race.

I looked around for my shoe as I picked up my bike, saw that it was still clipped into my pedal, took it off the pedal, took the shoe cover off, put the shoe back on, tried to straighten the bent cleat as I clipped in, and started the chase.  The chase went hard for about 15 minutes while I worked with one or two other guys to make it back into the peloton, but it was clear that we were doomed from the beginning.  With no caravan to draft in, and with a motivated pack still attacking itself, there was no way we were going to cover the +minute deficit with just two guys, both slightly bruised and road rashed–me with both right, and now left, sides of my body aching.

A group of 10 or so formed over the next lap and the rain started coming down heavier and colder.  The 60 degrees turned to 45 and the next couple hours were pure misery.  I took my fair share of pulls and attempted to stay warm, but there was no chance of that happening with just the thin jacket and knee warmers I had on.  There was nothing to look forward to except being finished.  Different than a normal race in the sense that usually you look forward TO the finish, not to BEING finished.

We came in 17 minutes down from the leaders.  I was drenched and hypothermic by the top of the climb, like most of the field was, though to show for it I had nothing.  Nothing except hardening up points.

The rest of the team came in at the same time, with Phil a handful of seconds up on them from being in the breakaway and taking 5th.  Chris was next at 7th, winning the pack sprint.  The rest of the guys all finished in a small lead group with Chris.

Stage 2.  20K (ish) TT I think.  Joe told me to take it easy in the TT to save energy for Sunday, since I was sitting so far back on GC my TT didn’t matter.  I rode it medium pace, enough to not get time cut, and I came in at 36th.  I was surprised when I saw my placing.  I think I could have been in the top 10, or close to it if I had nailed it, but then again even getting 10th wouldn’t have done anything for the team.  My goal for this race now is to get someone the GC win or stage hunt.  We have three guys in the top 11 GC (Dan at 5th, Chris at 7th, and Ian at 11th), with three others (Phil, Lang, and Spencer) close behind and within range of the podium.  Next up is the Crit tonight.  And then then 90 miler tomorrow, where the final GC could be anyone’s guess after KP goes to the front and blows that shit UP!

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