Saturday, May 10, 2008

Joe Martin Stage Race and Mexican’t

For the next few weeks, starting the weekend of May 10th I’m going to be on the road lots. Lots. It’s weird because when I’m home, it’s a mad panic to get ready to go race again. Then when I’m on the road, it’s relaxing. As far as stress goes, racing is much easier than being a job holding home owner. The next weeks including last week: Joe Martin Stage Race, Tour of Arkansas, Quad Cities (or TX racing), Tulsa Tough, Tour of Winghaven, REST WEEK, Nature Valley Stage Race. I guess I’ll be “fit” then…. Or totally nuked for the remainder of 2008. Okay, HERE WE GO!

Team Car and Gas Mileage. We put the roof rack on the Saab for this trip. 4 bikes, 3 wheels and 4 riders all crammed in the car. It was a true, "Team Car." But the gas mileage is crap. 33 normally. 20 with all the crap on top.

Joe Martin Stage Race?

For anyone that hasn’t done this race. The Men 1,2 race is much more fun than the Pro, 1 race. The Pros are just that, Pros and the races are way too controlled for my liking. The guys have it down to a science. Effectively, they eliminate the road stages and make the race a 2.5 mile uphill Time Trial, with a super hard criterium to finish the General Classification on Sunday. The road stages aren’t hard enough to break the Pro field up and thus they are destined to be field sprints (aka: boring until the last 12 miles). Oh well, I’m not in that one!

I’m in the 1,2 race! It’s totally a free for all. No team is really strong enough to control the race and the premium is placed on your ability to race.

First thing is first. Never, ever, ever, ever travel to Arkansas without having your camera at the ready at all times. Ever. AR is just too entertaining to forget a camera. I saw it all…..

For starters, our Hotel. Really nice hotel. Really new hotel. I mean, new. We unwrapped the sheets from plastic wrap when we got them. And, there was only about 5 cars outside each night. Perhaps NW Arkansas has overbuilt just a bit....

Don't forget about the typical AR stuff. Pick up truck with 7 kids in the bed. I seriously saw it. Seriously.

The squad: Bill, Nick, Adam, Joe. Some call it the B Squad. Screw you guys. We rock our faces off!

Uphill TT:

It seems that no matter how light you are and how light your bike is, everything is too heavy in an uphill TT. Blah. Did I mention that I hate TT’s? Well, I do. Results: Nick- top 10, Joe- top 13, Bill- Top 20, Adam- 33rd or something. Not great, but not bad. It seems that Nick and Joe’s times were a bit surprising to everyone except the team. I knew they could do it. Good ride men.

Stage 2: 110 miles, Mount Gaylor.

By and large this stage was hard, but not ludicrous. Ian, from Nebraska, got away with 30 miles to go and ended up winning by 45 seconds. Solo. Awesome ride. I was in a break from mile 92- 109.76. We got caught about 3 blocks from the finish line. Too bad we had to go uphill to the finish. I lost about a minute and was totally blown. But I gave it a try. If there would have been a “Team Classification” we would have won it on this day. HRRC was the only team with a full contingent of riders.

Stage 3: 95 miles, Hilly.

This one ended up being a Field Sprint with one Lone Star off the front winning by 15 seconds. Carlos Vargas is indeed back in form with his 20 mile solo effort at the end of the race.

Mexican’t Food!


The following is an algorithm for choosing a Mexican Restaurant when you’re staying at a hotel in a strange city. And also how we violate all those rules. It’s a wonder no one died.

1. Under no circumstances will the hotel restaurant be good. Never have I eaten in the hotel and been satisfied. Don’t even consider eating the Mexican food at a hotel. EVER.

2. ALL Mexican restaurants must have some sort of Latin or Spanish name. If not, don’t even walk in the door. Glasgow’s” does not count. But we went in anyway.

3. It’s preferred that the motif of the establishment be updated. Not necessary, but it does inspire confidence. “remodeled” 1960’s motif ain’t cuttin it.

4. Mexican restaurants have latino employees. Not Old Fat Ladys. If no one speaks Spanish, walk out the door. Glasgow’s= Old Fat Ladys.

5. The menu will be all Mexican food with a hint of American for all the lame- O’s who are too scared to eat some good food. Glasgow’s= 1 page “Mexican,” 5 pages other crap.

6. Mexican restaurants DO serve margaritas. If you can’t buy a Margarita then you’re not at a Mexican place. Hell, at least beer! Glasgows= no liquor on the menu.

So, there I was…. Eating Chips and canned salsa waiting for our “Mexican” food. What came out was, amazing. Never have I seen a bunch of Mexican food that was so tasteless, so bad, so lame. Basically, all it did was give me a stomach ache and gas. Our team, affectionately called the food, Mexican’t Food. It was…. Horrible.


It was unanimous that we needed some good desert after that experience so we headed over to the local Braums. Now, I’m not really sure just what in the devil the interior designer was thinking because it was a new store but when you walk in; BAM! You’re in 1986 hanging out with Doc Brown and Marty McFly. Seriously! The pictures, the styles, the product. Just everything. It was weird.

But the best part was the bathroom! Who would have ever thought of making the exterior walls of a bathroom out of windows? Ahh, Arkansas! Sure, they were tinted, but were they THAT tinted?

I wish I would have had a camera. Priceless.

Stage 4: Criterium. Really freaking hard criterium.

I’ve done this stage a few times and never once finished it. I guess I’ve just needed a few years to hone my criterium skills. This race is HARD! You’re either screaming through an off camber corner, sprinting on the flats, or sprinting up a hill. Ouch.

The first split happens nearly immediately and Bill and Nick are in front of it. I’m getting ready to ride across the gap when I hear, “Joe’s behind the split” on the radio. Bad news for the Away team. I drift back for Joe, then make a stellar move to leap- frog him across the gap. He gets there and I thought it was over, but it’s not. The back part of the split suddenly motivate and pull it all back together.

Next is a few really hard moves consecutively that Bill covered. Three hard moves and Bill covers them all. This course is difficult to the point where it’s almost too easy to overextend yourself and covering three moves will do that. The way this criterium works is that you’re either “on” you you’re dropped. Bill was “on.” For sure! He covered three serious moves in a row. Then was blown as fourth attack came and he went out the back. I consider that my fault as much as anyone’s. If I could have been in position to cover any of those moves, then Bill could have sat in and not blown.

In the end, a group of 8 got away and we were riding for 9th place and to not lose too much time. We protected the position of Nick and Joe. Both got some upgrade points and I got into the top 20… barely.