Sunday, June 15, 2008

Nature Valley Wrap Up....

When last we left Adam he had completed a 15.05 10k Time Trial with the final 1k at a 15% grade. “Good enough to beat the time cut” I thought. Well, that wasn’t so much the case. Ben Jacques- Maynes rode a 12.32 and with the 20% time cut I needed a 15.02 to stay in the race. Obviously, there’s a numbers problem there. Josh Crow, Team Director, made a trip down to the officials stand and pleaded our case (we didn’t really have a case), but to no avail. At the end of the day, myself, Steve Tilford, and Nick Coil were not good enough to make the time cut and thus our 2008 Nature Valley Grand Prix campaign is finished.

Time Trial thoughts. Historically, the time trial hasn’t had much impact on the overall G.C. of NVGP. This time is no different. There is too much time lost by too many people on the road stages and in the Stillwater Criterium (final stage on Sunday) for the TT to matter much. However, the TT does set up the primary protagonists for the fireworks that will come. But again, my problem was that I just couldn’t go fast enough.

I’ve never really been a fan of the TT. I don’t really consider it a legitimate bike race. Cycling, to me, is a craft. It’s a skill that needs to be honed and refined. It’s like poker in a way. Once you get good enough at it, the cards only matter to a degree (watch Rounders) after which you are just playing your opponents. The same holds true with cycling. The real beauty comes when you’re not racing the course anymore, but when you are racing the riders. It’s rider vs. rider and the moves are made because they have to be made not because the corner is coming, or whatever.

I made the decision to neglect any and all TT equipment assuming that I was gong to be fine in the TT. That’s was my downfall. I guess the TT bike is becoming a necessity. I figure even a disk wheel would have been 30 seconds faster and there it is. I’m in. That’s my own fault and I had to face the Team and the Team Director as I was Time Cut.

The racing here was a bit stressful. I think everyone was nervous, which is strange for professional bike racers. I can’t tell you how many crashes I saw on that first road stage. For that reason, I’m not too upset that I wasn’t racing. But I am upset that I wasn’t racing on Friday night. This overwhelming feeling of inadequacy rolled over me and it’s not a comfortable feeling. I’ve never ever come close to missing a time cut in my life and I don’t intend to repeat this “performance.”

Downtown Minneapolis Criterium.

Of all the races in the NVGP, this is the one that I wanted to do the most. Fast, technical and fun. It was on Nicollete Mall which has numerous outdoor shops, pubs, etc. I basically sat and drank beer at Brits all evening and watched. And watched. And watched. The crowd was crazy! 5- 8 deep everywhere yelling, screaming, spilling beer, leaning over the railings and absolutely phenomenal. I wish I would have ridden 3 seconds faster in that TT.

Mankato Road Race.

Today was hot and windy. Great weather for a bike race! From the accounts I heard, the field would blow apart, come back together, repeat. When they entered the circuits there were two groups of 60 guys. We had Bill and Chris in the front group and as the group unraveled, they managed to each get good places among the best riders in the country. These guys are indeed the heroes of the team.

Meanwhile, Steve, Nick and I went on our own ride. 30 miles, easy and lots of chatter. Sometimes that’s the best thing for a weary bike racer.