Sunday, June 8, 2008

Hair Dryer

Road trip! Once again, I’m throwing my bike, and race bag (which hasn’t really been unpacked since April) into the team van and away we go. The destination, St. Louis. We decided that because there was such good prize money and Cathy Walburg was racing early, that going Saturday night was the best option. This way we wouldn’t be driving so early we see everyone getting home from the bars. I had a bit of a long night Friday, and an early Saturday. Couple that with leaving kind of late, and I was pretty tired when I got into the car. Needless to say, I was excited to get to the hotel and go straight to sleep.

Steve Tilford has been on a mission lately to get the best hotel possible for the least amount of money. This one was a Marriot in some business park in Chesterfield and it was outstanding! Marble floors, revolving front door, valet parking, bell hop and that’s just the lobby. AND the room was incredible too! But, I don’t really remember much about the room other than the upgraded linens. Just a bit of advice, always get the upgraded linens. The pillows were labeled “soft” and “firm,” and there was a throw. I guess that’s some sort of blanket that’s not long enough to be functional, but it does look pretty. I would say that was probably one of the most comfortable beds I’ve ever been in. The way, Priceline. The cost $46. Retail, $179.

The following I can not condone in any way shape or form. Especially being the upstanding citizen I am. However, it would be a good story to tell if it were to ever come to fruition. AND I think that only a bike racer is savvy enough to pull off this maneuver because it would take a combination of movie watching, quick talking, self confidence, and a bit of panache. I’m giving away a great idea here, so if any of you do this please send me an account of the story with any pics and I’ll post it here…

With all these nice hotels we stay at, there’s bound to be a wedding reception, or two going on. Right? So, for all you single guys, or girls throw a “dressy” outfit into the race bag “just in case.” Can you say, “Wedding Crashers.” Sure, you probably won’t race so well the next day. But………

Tour de Winghaven

Myself, Steve, Bill, Nick, Chris, Joe, Jay, Shadd represented the team. Also, this was the first time we had our Team Director, Josh Crow on the radio.

The race was, hot, hot, hot today. The thermometer read 94 degrees just prior to the race. Windy too... sort of like riding into a hair dryer. Good for me! I have a history with this race. The first year it was hot and windy and I managed a 5th place in the winning break. The second year, I was in a late race maneuver that almost worked and finished in the field sprint. This year, who knew…..

This race started out slow, nearly backwards even. Everyone was very lethargic. I’m thinking everyone was just hot. This means that all the attacks were short, but very hard. If you didn’t get any kind of gap immediately, you couldn’t really keep the throttle open without melting yourself. There were probably a few dozens attacks and the team did a pretty good job of covering the moves until……

Carlos was the first to break the peloton. He was quickly joined by Alex Welch and the current US Crit Champion, Halloway. This move had a chance, but at only 15 miles into the race I didn’t think it could work. Then Alex Boyd and Jeff Schroetlin (sp) left the field, right beside me and rode up to the move. It wasn’t easy by any means when it happened but it wasn’t really ridiculous. I was right there and I could have just slid over and been on Jeff’s wheel as they went across to The Move.

But I didn’t. I decided that the move was doomed. I thought, “it’s only 18-20 miles into the 70 mile race, it’s hot, this move won’t work, it would be a really hard move to make and really hard to be in, I’m not really sure I can stay in that move.” Basically, I made a wrong decision and a bad read on the field. I’m almost positive I could have gotten in the move, but honestly, those guys were the best in the race and I would have been hard pressed to stay in the move.

Then, Chad Cagle came flying past me and rode right up to the move like he was on a motorcycle! Chad is riding crazy fast right now, like he’s on a mission after getting screwed over by a bunch of a-hole Toyota guys. So, that was it. 1-6 gone. Josh recognized this and pleaded for the team to go to the front and reign this dangerous move in. However, as hot as it was, no one had any ability to organize and no one could manage any sort of repeated effort. We were on the “one and done” plan. Surge once, and you need 5 minutes to recover.

The next lap the field started to unravel again. I looked up and saw, Jeff Hartman, Clark Priebe (who had already raced the Master’s Race), one guy I didn’t know, and Barry Lee from Team Hotel San Jose. I jumped across the gap, Dewey Dickey joined us and that was it. 7-12 place. One problem, we had a loooong way to race still. This is when it starts to get ugly.

Everyone now has their own story to tell. From the accounts I heard, the field behind me would shatter, reform, shatter, reform again. Steve Tilford usually has very accurate details of races so I’ll let him recap this. As for me…..

We rotated evenly for quite a while, only dropping the fading Clark (but he was on race number two in the heat). I think everyone started getting tired because we started going slower and slower. I was taking an ice cold bottle nearly every lap. Pour a little on me, drink a little, repeat. Even still, it was hard.

With about 2 laps to go we were joined by one other rider and then the attacking started. When it all finished, I was 10th. Normally, in that scenario I wouldn’t be too happy with myself. However, considering I was riding with guys I haven’t historically been able to ride with, I’m not upset with the place. Sure, I always want a better result, and sure I had an opportunity to something amazing earlier in the race; but that was about the best place I was going to get. I was thinking with 2.5 laps to go that I could win a bunch sprint if it came down to it. The problem was that it never came down to a bunch sprint.

I would say that I’m not capable of too many performances of that caliber in that weather in one year, and the aftermath tells the tale. For starters, the entire team sat on the curb after the race completely shell shocked for 20 minutes and didn’t move. As for me, I was too nauseated to eat or drink that night. I couldn’t really sleep either and I was basically hot all night. The next day, I was dizzy from when I woke up at 6:45am until 11am which was fun, but probably not the best thing in the world.

Next up, Nature Valley Stage Race.