Despite my best efforts to get mauled by a mountain lion, none appeared last night as I walked around our house in the woods last night, dropping bits of chicken giblets as I went. I have this theory that if you get attacked by a mountain lion and survive, you’ll win whatever race you do the next day. There’s a good chance you’ll be killed and eaten though, so it’s a gamble. Kind of like going in a breakaway.
Stage 2: Today was an 80-mile road race starting off with almost all the climbing in the first 30 miles. I had been pretty worried about this stage since I’d heard that it usually breaks up but finishes with a group between 30 and 60. If it were to be a group of 60 there’d be no reason for me to miss out. It would be hard, though. Very hard. Touch and go even. I imagined myself dangling at the back just clinging on for dear life, arguing with myself to keep pushing for just 10 more seconds.
I’d been living at the top of the first part of this climb (right past the first KOM sprint point) in a little house for a week before the race. When Chris and Dan got here a few days ago we moved one house over because it had more room and my mom, who came to be our race director/sougnier, moved to the little house. Anyways, my point was that I have been living at the top of this climb for a while now and I’ve ridden and driven it 20 dozen times, each time imagining how hard certain parts were going to be. Imagining where to move up, where to conserve, where people would attack, which direction the wind would be coming from and where to position myself. I was worried about it. On paper, today’s stage may have appeared to be the easiest stage, but I knew better. I knew that it was going to blow up immediately and I better make the front group. It was actually my main goal of the race to make this front group.
Looks like I’ll have to have a new goal for the race, because it turned out to be way easier than I thought. It was still hard, but I was never near getting blown up and the pack was still at 100 guys at the finish line. A breakaway got away from the gun and stayed away all day. I was in a lot of pain on that first KOM climb, but the pain was short lived and only during the last 400 meters. I had done intervals on this section of the hill a few days before that hurt more.
After a lackluster day riding in the pack, I planned on attacking with 1K to go. When I saw how motivated some of the teams were for the sprint I changed my plan to positioning myself well in the final two miles and going for the sprint. In NRC races in the past I’ve spent too much energy trying to stay at the front for the final five miles, only to get swarmed with 2K to go. This time I planned on making one push to get to the front with just 2 or 3K to go and be one of those guys that swarms. It could have worked, but because of a strong tail wind during the time I needed to move up, the field got strung out and moving up more than a few guys at a time wasn’t possible. I entered the final mile way too far back to contest anything, and just followed the wheel in front of me until I saw that people were blowing up with 500 meters still to go. Lang and I passed a bunch of these guys at the end, just to minimize any time gaps in front of us. We both finished mid-pack. I wasn’t even close blown up enough to feel like I at least made a good attempt.
Overall it was a pretty boring race and a poorly thought-out finish (by me). There was a lot of anticipation: the first climb, the second climb, the “crazy” Mesa descent, the crosswind section, the final climb…but nothing ever really materialized into making it a super selective race. And with the breakaway gone in the first kilometer I wasn’t able to attack so I felt pretty lazy today. Yesterday, despite a poor placing and losing a lot of time on the final climb, was the opposite. I did everything I could to blow myself to bits and ride an aggressive race. Today I was just pack fodder finishing at 65th.
Chris and Dan mixed it up in the finish but also didn’t have the positioning need to crack the top 20. Lang finished right with me and Alan (our fifth teammate) hung on almost long enough to make the time cut but missed out by 40 seconds. As a newly upgraded cat 1, it was a big undertaking to even attempt this race. Hats off to him for giving it a go. Next year…
Tomorrow’s the time trial. And by tomorrow, I guess I mean today since I’m going to post this on Friday, not today, which is Thursday.
Stage 3: OK, now today is really today. Friday. I’ve been recovering from my smoker’s cough, I mean altitude stage race cough, with a nap and a large bowl of fruit. The bad thing about stage racing is that your diet goes to shit eating at greasy mexican restaurants, so every once in a while eating normal food (fruit and vegetables) is a good idea. The stage–16.5 mile time trial with a lot of climbing, but not a LOT of climbing. Just a lot. And some wind too. I don’t know the results yet. I rode hard, but got passed by two guys. Wasn’t my kind of time trial. I’m planning something big for the final two stages though.