We’re leaving for Joe Martin on Wednesday. It’s an NRC race in Arkinsaws, which is near Oklahoma. I’ve been thinking we were going to Oklahoma for the past week or two. I was wrong. That whole middle east area is confusing.
A re-cap of the past two weeks is in order first. Two weeks ago was the Walla Walla stage race. A four event race out in Eastern Washington. It was fun. And sunny. Stage one was a short and hard road race that ended in a group sprint. I finished in the top 20 after not positioning myself well at the final kilometer. Stage two was a TT, where I underperformed. My TT is getting better, but not where it needs to be. Stage three was a crazy downtown crit at night, with no lights, during a thunderstorm. It started pouring about 2 minutes into the race, and the later it got the harder it was to see. I slid out and went into some cones but managed to stay upright. After that, I called it a day and rode the rest of the corners like a dump truck. We all got the same time since it was too dark for the officials to read our numbers at the finish line. And that brings us to stage four, the grand finale 100 mile day with a big ‘ol climb. This was our team’s chance to make up for a lack of results thus far. And to make up for our lack of GC placing as well.
I raced moderately well. I flatted on the last lap, caught back on with help from Joe in the team car, and attacked shortly after on a hill and got a gap with about 6 other guys. It ended up being the winning move and my teammate, Soren Peterson (not related to me) was in there with me and ended up winning the race. So despite my lack of form that weekend, I felt like I at least contributed to the team’s win.
The next weekend was the Cherry Blossom stage race in The Dalles Oregon. The team had a bit of good team work on the first stage (and second too). Teammate Phil got away with Patty Bevin from Orbea on the first lap and they worked quickly to get a gap of 2-3 minutes. I went hard on the third lap at the base of the hill, along with teammates Lang and Chris Wingfield. I suffered for it since there was a stiff headwind, but hung in when Sam took a dig (I think) near the top of the climb. We had a gap for a bit, but it didn’t stick. I got a flat (big surprise) on either lap 2 or 3. I can’t remember. But got back on with help from Joe again. And this time no 30 second penalty! Patty ended up dropping Phil on the last lap and soloed to the finish, while teammate Sam took the field sprint for 2nd. Not a bad day at all for the team. I still did not feel like I wanted though.
Stage two was another road race. One of the hardest non-pro races I’ve done in a while. 8,000 feet of climbing in 72 miles, including 4 times up a 1 mile gravel/dirt climb. On lap two, I put in a big effort to minimize the gap that Mike Northey–Orbea guy and Ian Mckisick–Lenovo, had developed. They had 20-30 seconds on the field, which had momentarily sat up to soft pedal. I knew my legs wouldn’t carry me to victory that day (still not feeling like they should) so I pretty much killed myself before the gravel section to bring back the two up the road. It paid off. Sam bridged up there and ended up winning two laps later. I got dropped from the lead group though on that gravel climb.
The group I ended up in was only 30 seconds back after the decent of that climb, so I chased my ass off for the next lap. I did too much, and right after yelling at the 15 guys I was chasing with (calling them wimps) I got dropped on the gravel climb. Eli and my teammate Sean were doing work, but the rest were pretty much sitting on. In their defense, I think they were just tired. Getting dumped was dumb on my part, but I didn’t really care about finishing 20th. I was either going to catch that damn front group or I was going to get dropped. And I got dropped. I road the last lap and a half by myself.
Next day was the TT. I placed 20th. I thought I was going to be in the top 10, so I was pissed when I saw the results. Later in the day was the final stage, the crit. It was my duty to race aggressive in the first half and lead Sam out in the final sprint if none of us had gone away in a break. I got off the front a few times, but everything was short-lived. I won a prime for $25 of sandwiches, which pretty much made the race worth while. I crashed 10 minutes later–I was using the wrong kind of break pads for my carbon wheels and they’re too grabby. I’m actually impressed I hadn’t gone down before that, since I usually lock up my breaks a couple times per race with those break pads. Anyways, I got back in and began planning for the finish. It had been too wide open of a course for anything to stick, so it came down to a field sprint. With 1 lap to go, I was sitting behind Sam in the top 15. But we weren’t close enough to the front, and in the next corner someone almost went down and I got swarmed and Sam went into the curb–he stayed upright though.
Sam’s GC placed 2nd GC, Lang 4th, and Phil and Chris both made the top 10 as well. A good weekend for the team. Me, not so much. I felt good at Redlands/Sam dimas, but the last 2 weeks haven’t been so hot. Oh well, that’s how it goes. I’m confident that after a good solid week of rest (forced rest since I got sick on Monday) that Joe Martin is going to go very well next week. My cold is pretty much gone and my legs are feeling well rested and motivated. Stage one looks sick. 110 miles or rolling hills. Here we go!