Nature Valley

Over the past few days,  I’ve had a bunch of great ideas about how to start out this post.  Such as, “Up here in Miiiinesuuuta things muuve a bit sluw at times.  Peeople talk kinda like thr brains might be in tha hibernation doncha know.  In a deeep sleep, way up in da cold muuntains.  But one thing’s for suuure, da bikin n’ da ridin n’  da racin’s not slow one little bit.

I had another idea about how I’d talk a little bit about the Midwest in a more positive tone than I did here.

But last night I had a cunundrum.  I think that’s the right word.  Maybe not.  Anyways,  I decided to write about regret.

Bike racing, to me at times, always seems to be about regret.  You regret not being in the front when the pack splits, not getting behind so and so’s wheel for the sprint, not going hard enough up a certain hill.  Or like yesterday regreting not sticking it out in the break away.  It kept me up all night.  My teammate, Andy who’s sharing a bed with me, told me to forget about it and try to think about a red sphere instead.  It didn’t work.

Here’s what happened: midway through the race I bridged up to a Vita e Amore rider (Chad Gerlach).  He was a hundred meters up the road and the pack momentarily slowed as if it was catching it’s breath.  That’s when I jumped away and struggled up there onto his wheel.  Within a few minutes, we had a sizeable gap.  The biggest gap a breakaway had all day.  I had tried a couple other times to get into a move without success.  One of the times I attacked, looked back and saw people on my wheel,  but kept going hard for a minute, just in case we did have a gap.  We didn’t though.  About six guys passed me as I came off to the side to let them by and get back in the draft.  But after six of them passed, some lazy guy let a gap open up.  “Who is this weak guy not willing to pull through? ” I thought.  I looked back and there’s Floyd Landis, content to let those six guys just walk off the front.  Well that sort of thing doesn’t happen under Kennett’s watch.  So I jumped in front of him and closed the gap myself.  I attacked one more time after this I think, which also didn’t work.  Then sat at the back, where I spent the majority of the day.

But back to the break that actually stuck.  I got up there, we worked together (although he did the majority of the work while I sucked air for all I was worth).  Soon we had over a minute and the pack was becoming more and more distant.  Gerlach was getting pissed at me for not pulling enough though, and every time I went to the front for 30 seconds to take my pull, he would come around me so freaking fast it required almost a full out effort to get back on his wheel.  After each of of my pulls and the resulting pain it took to get back on his wheel, I’d vow to myself to not take any more pulls because it was all I could do to just sit on his wheel.  But once the acid cleared out of my legs enough for me to think somewhat clearly, I’d go for another pull.  After about 20 minutes (I’m guessing here as it felt like an hour), I was about ready to blow up.  I could have held on for a little while longer, but I was worried that I’d crack and die, then not be able to hold onto the peleton as it came by and I’d get dropped, not make the time cut for the day, and then be out of the race. So I dropped off his wheel and soft pedaled for a minute.  An OUCH guy passed me and I jumped on his wheel, now with the hope that I would be able to get back to Geralch and the three of us could work together.  But the pack caught OUCH and I fairly quickly after that and my moment of glory came to a full and complete stop.

Chad Gerlach stayed off by himself for another 20 minutes maybe and then got caught.  But even though he didn’t even come close to winning the race, he was awarded the most agressive rider’s jersey and got a big ol’ interview.  I thought he might have been attacking me while coming around after I’d take my pulls, but it turns out he wasn’t.  And he really could have used me to stay away longer.  Even if I’d just taken 20 second pulls, it would have been much better than a one man effort, which is what I left him with.  Communication should have happened.  And above that, determination.  Long break away opportunities don’t just happen all the time for every rider in NRC events like they do in local OBRA races.  I should have gone until I couldn’t go anymore.  Then I should have gone a bit more and blown myself and my bike to bits all over the road so that the peleton would have to slow down and swerve into the opposite lane to avoid riding over my slimy bits and pieces, for fear of dirtying their bike’s wax jobs and gunking up their chains with blood and fecal mater from my smashed intestines.  

I’m using a PC right now and I don’t know how to get pictures off Velownes, so here’s the link to the sight of a cool picture of us in the break away:

I sat near the back, not on purpose that’s just where I ended up, for too long and I didn’t know a gravel section was coming up.  It wasn’t long, but when we turned onto the small gravel road the peleton died.  People were going down left and right.  Our speed came to a standstill and some guys had to unclipp.  The first couple hundred feet were slightly up hill so they had to walk or run their bikes.  I lucked out and got through OK, but was at the very tail end of the survivors that made it. 

The gravel section was only about 500 meters long, then it turned into an equally narrow road with tons of potholds, going down hill into the town where we had 5 and a half finishing circuits.  The pace here was blistering like a crit.  Everyone was strung out.  I would pass a few people each lap, but I made little progress.  It came down to the last 1.9 mile lap and I was sitting at around 60th place.  Gaps had been opening up as people’s legs failed to hold the wheel in front of them.  A small gap formed a couple guys ahead of me and I’m guessing that two people merged into each other to jump around the guy letting the gap form.  The went down hard.  53×11 gearing hard (which by the way we spent quite a long time in that gear all day).  Their bikes flew up in the air and I was heading straight for them with no time to swerve.  I didn’t even put my breaks on.  I made myself narrow and squeezed through the gap of their flying bikes and tumling bodies that must have been exactly 40cm wide–the width of my handlebars.   My teammates here have been giving me a hard time about having such narrow bars, but they paid off today…yesterday actually.

A big gap, maybe four or five seconds formed during the crash and my group lost contact with the leaders.  We chased but I ended up maybe four seconds behind the tail end of the pack as they crossed the finish line.  But I was docked 28 seconds–the time from the front of the peleton to me.  Damn it.  F.  I finished 86th and now I’m 103 or something in GC.

Quick recap of the first two stages. 

The time trial was in the morning and the crit at night.  I sucked at the TT.  I went  too slow on the flat part and my 30 second guy (behind me) caught up to me at the base of the 1k climb.  I put 20 seconds into him though on the climb.  I need to learn how to TT.  That’s my biggest goal for next year.

The crit was hard and fun.  I tried to start at the front, but ended up 40 guys back anyways.  But there were over 100 behind me so I shouldn’t complain.  There was a huge crowd and the couse took us through the streets of downtown Saint Paul.  I ended up riding near the back most of the race and with three laps to go two guys crashed right in front of me (kind of like the road race yesterday) and I lost my position as the pack got away and guys passed me from both sides as I tried to get back up to speed.  I finished with a couple other guys maybe 5 seconds back from the pack, but like the road race yesterday, they take the time of the front end of the peleton, not the back.  So I was docked over 50 seconds. 

Ok time to go ride.  Maybe time for another FRS.  We stole three pallets of FRS from the registration hotel and we’ve been downing the stuff like water.  It tastes like crap, but it has quercetin and B vitamins to help “bring you up a level and keep you there.”  So every time we drink one, we go up a level.  And it keeps us there.  That’s how we do things here.  So if you want to go up a level and stay there.  You know what to do.

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