First off, I want to let you know that Sam Nicoletti is planning on writing something for this blog about what it means to be vegan–or something along those lines. Since he is a vegan and a cyclist and a writer, I think it will be good. Plus he won the state championship criterium a few weeks ago, so he is somewhat of a celebrity.
As for my own veganism, I have been asked to stop referring to myself as vegan and even somewhat vegan, sine I have been eating meat and other animal products. Apparently it is insulting to other vegetarians and vegans for me to call myself a vegan when I have occasionally been eating non vegan food. I completely understand. Because if someone were to call themselves a cyclist and not ride their bike 365 days a year, I too would be insulted. Hahaha. That’s for you Mike!! Oh, and thanks again for letting me stay at your house this weekend.
But in all seriousness, I do think that calling myself a vegan or even ‘veganish’ may be misleading. Since starting my vegan diet on Wednesday of last week, I have eaten multiple servings of whey protein, a dinner of jumbalia which included shrimp, chicken, and sausage; a meat sandwich today, hot and sour soup that was made with broth and had a few pieces of meat in it, some cabbage that had mayonnaise in it, fish oil and cod liver oil, and of course some “contaminated food,” such as spaghetti sauce that had meatballs in it even though I didn’t eat any meatballs. Considering those are all the animal products I’ve eaten in the last six days, I think I have done pretty well. My goal now is to keep doing what I’m doing and eat an “animal reduced” diet. I will no longer refer to myself as vegan and I apologize to all those who I’ve upset.
The Eugene stage race went very well. Rob English won, which everyone knew would happen. But our team had some great success as well. Jim, Chris, Eli, and myself made up our squad, and the team’s goal was to support Eli as much as we could. And Eli did great. He ended up 8th GC in a very tough field, and snagged some cat 1 upgrade points for next year.
After the prologue on Friday, which I road very slowly in, the road race became my main goal of the weekend. 78 miles, three laps of the Thursday Nighter. It was fairly hot, but not too bad. Our plan was to get Eli in a breakaway. I attacked a number of times in the first lap, but kept my aggression much lower than normal, since I’ve been off the bike for so long. I could definitely tell I was riding slower than usual, but considering this probably as slow as I get, I didn’t do half bad.
By a lap and a half, I was in the lead breakaway with Matt Ritzow from Paul’s and Cliff Heaberlin From Guinness. We quickly had 40 seconds on the field after some hard work, but after 6 or 8 miles we heard a chase group of 5 guys was only 25 seconds back and the pack was a minute behind them. We talked briefly and decided to just soft pedal until they caught up, since they were going to catch us anyways. Luckily, Eli was in the chase group, which gave me a reason to work in it.
I began bonking with about 20 miles to go and started missing pulls. We were down to seven guys now, still plenty to keep the gap healthy. So at this point I would have just sat in, even if it meant being yelled at, because every little rise was slowly destroying me. But I wanted the break to keep going for Eli, so I kept taking my pulls. Although, I knew I had to be careful and not overdo it because after taking a pull, if someone decided to do even a weak attack, I’d be off the back and no help to Eli.
Eli and Galen were definitely the strongest in the break, and Eli was probably doing the most work out of everyone. I tried to get him to do less, but I think he mainly just wanted to make sure the break stuck even if it meant not having energy at the end for a good finish. I’ve felt this way before too, but the person who cares about the break sticking the least, sometimes has the best odds at actually winning.
That probably wasn’t the case with this race though, because Galen sure wanted the break to stick. He worked pretty much the entire time, and even though we all knew where and how he was going to attack, it didn’t matter. None of us could hold on.
Galen waited until we were 1/4 the way up Sprinter’s hill; Eli had been on the front (not good) and Galen went off like a rocket. I just held on, my bonked legs praying for the end, six of us made it over the hill together, with Galen off the front. Eli went to the front immediately and despite my efforts to calm him, he did the majority of the work to bring Galen back. I did all I could, and we actually got very close to completely closing the gap, but a few guys weren’t doing any work so we never did catch him. With 400 meters to go I tried going to the front to give a lead out for Eli, who was sitting second wheel behind Paul B, but I was maxed out and fell short. He took a very respectable 3rd place, which he could have done without my help I’m sure, and I drifted in a few seconds later for 6th.
The next morning, Mike and I drove over to the TT start and rode very very slowly and easily around the 15 mile course. I averaged 264 watts, about an average pace for an all day endurance ride. Surprisingly, it did make my hamstrings hurt, which have been tight and sore since I ran six miles on Wednesday. I wasn’t last, though, as others had the same plan in mind–save it for the crit if you’re not going to place top 10 GC.
The crit went according to our plan, which was to either get Eli in a break or to keep the guys right behind him in GC out of breaks that didn’t include Eli. No breaks lasted for more than a lap or two. I went off the front to grab a prime to pay for the weekend’s gas bill, then did a bit of work to keep Eli off the front, which is where I kept finding him for some reason. I got caught in a crash, but stopped and unclipped just in time to avoid going down, keeping my crashes limited to only one this year.
With three or four laps to go, Chris found me near the front of the pack and glued himself to my wheel. I kept him out of the wind and confusion near the front until the last half lap, where I turned the gas on and jetted out front for one last race effort for the year. I got Chris around the final corner and he jumped hard, leaving the rest of the pack multiple bike lengths behind and taking the win.
The last race of the year…sigh. September and October will include some riding and cross training, but the real training doesn’t start until November and December. It’s going to be a long wait.