Third one down. Elkhorn.

I attacked right as the neutral role out ended, just to see if the field really felt like racing. It was my one hope of winning this weekend, a solo break away let go by a complacent peleton. They weren’t complacent though, and I was caught quickly. I attacked again a little while later but the other guys that came with didn’t feel like doing much work and I was reeled in once more. The next move stuck. I wasn’t in it, but Chris was. Along with a couple other guys. I spent the next 15 to 20 miles covering attacks. But f I had known how hard the first stage of Elkhorn was going going to be, I would have just sat in.

An hour into the race, or maybe a little more, it began sprinkling. I put my arm warmers on. Then it began raining. We were going down hill at this point. Then the temperature dropped and it began pouring. Soon, the road became one giant puddle, inches deep across both lanes. Our brakes lost their power while our bodies lost theirs.

The rain stopped or at least let up, I can’t remember, when we reached the first climb. It wasn’t real steep, but it hurt. I covered an attack by a Land Rover guy, then immediately regretted it. I stayed in the front group without too much difficulty, although the pain level was definitely rising with every pedal stroke. At one point I stood up to climb on the pedals, but sat right back down as my arms almost gave out from being cold and water logged. I really wished I hadn’t ripped off my garbage bag wind vest at the start line, thinking that it was going to be nice and sunny today.

I decided to eat my cliff bar on the decent, and while trying to get it out of my pocket and then open it, I found myself a little ways off the back with some stragglers who had just barely made it over the hill. I didn’t think much of it, and continued eating/trying to eat the bar. Finally I had the entire thing in my mouth, balled up in my numb gums, slobbering brown sticky spit everywhere. And that’s right when I realized that the pack was completely strung out in a stiff cross wind and I wasn’t in it anymore. There were two or three small groups behind the pack, and I was in one of them. The chase began and I ended up having to spit out the cliff ball so I could breath.

My group of 5 guys eventually caught up by the first of the extremely painful rollers. They were quickly dropped for good once the climbing began, and I suffered on the back of the pack just barely there, wishing I hadn’t been so far off the back on the decent. I held on as many others dropped off. I finally got separated as the guy in front of me slowed down over the top of one of the hills. His tire was flat. I went around him, but never made it back onto the lead group, or what was left of it. Me and another guy just dangled 40 meters behind the pack for, I think, maybe 6 to 7 hours. I’m not sure.

We picked up some guys dropping off the pack and soon had our own little group to ride in with, going as fast as we could to make up time. I finished 1:07 behind the leader that day, and I was done. 26th place out of 90. I was penalized 20 seconds for crossing the yellow line twice–both times were during instances when the entire group I was with swerved a foot over the yellow line because of the crosswind. And I was the only one singled out of the 90 rider field for time penalties. Thanks.

My time trial was lame. I couldn’t get my breathing or heart rate up very high and I kept looking down at my power tap to see that I was riding below 300 watts at times. Very very weak. I finished 47th, then went to Safeway with Will and bought a feast of food. You won’t even believe how much food we got for the price we paid:

1 really big sub sandwich. The kind that are usually 8 dollars but today they were 5 dollars.
1 bunch of bananas
1 cup of chicken and bean soup that was 2 dollars off
1/2 gallon of chocolate milk
1 bagel

Now you might think that we paid $46 dollars for all that right? That would be a good deal. But you’d be sorry. Because we didn’t pay $46. We didn’t pay $36 and we certainly didn’t pay $26.
“Wait wait wait, Kennett,” you say. “You bought all that and didn’t even pay $26?? I’m having a hard time believing you!”
Well, friend. It’s all true. And you know what the amazing thing is? We only paid a mere $10.67 for all that. Plus we had a bunch of samples for free.
“HOW??” you ask. “How did you get such a great deal?”
I’d like to say it was our charming good looks and rugged demeanors, but Will was there. Standing next to me. So I’d have to go with amazing intelligence…no no, I keep forgetting about Will. Hmmmm. Maybe they felt sorry for me for having such a crazy-looking and foul smelling friend. Yeah, that must have been what it was.

We took our bounty to Derek’s tent at the high school, where the race’s headquarters were, and took a nap before the crit at 6:30.

The crit was super easy. When I was just sitting in, I could nose breath for almost all of it. I found out the secret to crit riding last week. It’s very simple: don’t break at all in the corners. I wish someone would have told me that years ago.

I almost won the first prime, after pulling some lazy guy around for a full lap and then having him barely outsprint me for the $20. Obviously he wasn’t interested in a break away because he was weak and stupid, so I sat up and we were caught. I missed the next prime I went for also, by just a foot or so. I cursed loudly at the line. I kept on going and the two guys that I had sprinted against got on my wheel. I pulled for half a lap, then elbowed for them to come around and take their pull, since we had a good gap on the field. But they were lazy and stupid and didn’t want to be off the front because they feared the big bad Mr. LAB (lactic acid, bitch!). We were caught.

I finally won a prime with a solo move at half a lap to go. I had a big gap by the time I crossed the line, and there were only four or five laps to go. I went hard for another half lap, looked back to see the pack at the same distance, then thought better of it and sat up, knowing that I’d be caught and would lose my position near the front.

I held a great spot in the top 8 up until the last lap, when I got swarmed from both sides and immediately found myself sitting 25 guys back. There wasn’t much I could do at this point, and ended up sprinting for 16th place. I know I could have won if I had just kept my position to the last corner, I passed about ten guys in the last 250 meters. I was pretty mad during my first cool down lap.

Will and I got a ride back to Tony’s cabin (where we had been staying each night) and made some burritos. I was feeling tired, but not super tired. I had mainly been feeling sore and lackluster in my legs, not mentally tired or unmotivated. So I planned on going for the long bomb the next day. Breakaway from mile 1 on the 100 mile Mt. Dooley stage. There was no way my legs were taking me to a top 3 spot in a group climb up that last 7 mile ascent, but a lucky breakaway had at least a tiny chance.

We woke up at 6 something to the sound of pounding rain. It didn’t let up for the next half hour, while I tried to decide whether I was going to race or not. The weather report said it was going to be raining hard for the next three hours, let up for an hour, then continue raining until the late afternoon. The only warm clothes I had brought were arm warmers and leg warmers, and spending 100 miles in that cold rain sounded like a great way for me to get sick, especially since it was my third week of stage racing in a row. I went back to sleep after eating breakfast. The race directors ended up postponing and then shortening the stage to 18 miles when half the field didn’t show up and the rain continued beating down. I would have done that, though. 18 miles in the rain wouldn’t have been too bad, but I don’t care too much anyways. It’s time for me to take a rest week.

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