I hate it when people start out blog post with “it’s been a while since my last post…” So I won’t do that. There, I already accomplished that. But seriously, it has been a long time. Why? Well, because no one really reads this anymore since I made it private. And what’s the point of doing something unless lots of people can see you doing it? Does a tree make a sound when it shits in the woods if no one’s around to hear it? No. Because trees don’t poop. And even if they did, it wouldn’t make noise because trees are very polite. Maybe if a tree ate a lot of spicy chili. Then it would make a pretty big noise. And of course trees don’t need toilet paper, since they have plenty of leaves. Why was it that people were complaining that I hadn’t written enough in here lately? Anyways, enough about trees. Now onto the races.
I think my last race that I wrote about was May 2nd. That would have been about Cherry Blossom. After that race, I got sick. Probably from Galen Mitterman, a fellow racer who’s been sick since March 2009. A couple other guys on Hagens got sick too, but we all managed to get over it by our 2nd NRC race of the year, Joe Martin, which was May 6th-9th. Joe Martin has been my favorite race of the year so far. For starters, I had NO flats or mechanical problems. I also did fairly well. No top 10’s or anything, but I did manage a 37th final GC out of 160 starters.
Joe Martin was a four stage event in Arkansas, with an uphill time trial on the first day, a road race on the second day, another road race on the third day, and a crit on Sunday. The TT, although uphill, suited me well since I feel like I can pace myself better on those than flat TTs, even though I should be better than a lot of the small guys at flat TTs. I placed 65th, over a minute down from the fastest time.
I’d never been to the South before, so seeing the dead armadillos on the side of the road was exciting. Also, it was warm and humid. In Seattle, where I had been for the previous couple days, it had been raining with temperatures in the mid 40’s.
The second day of the race was a 110 mile hilly road race that slowly ate away at your energy reserves without you realizing it. I spent too much time at the back and missed the two moves that went up the road. The first one went away at mile 50 and came back about 10 miles later. Then another move of a dozen guys went up the road and stayed there, winning about half a minute ahead of the field after a somewhat technical and hilly finish coming into town. I placed 50 something. And moved up a spot or two on GC.
Stage three was an easier stage, with only one climbing section in it. Of course, I was too far back in the pack the first time up the steep climb and missed the move. But lucky for us the pack chased it down before the last 10K to go. It ended in a group sprint on a wide road and I finished mid pack.
Finally, stage four came. The most technical, dangerous crit I have ever done. It had 12 corners in 1.3 miles. It was 90 minutes of pain as the course was very hilly, but also 90 minutes of panic, as there were 70 crashes in our race. 70!! Of the 130 starters, only 78 made the time cut of 45 minutes! Whoever chose the course deserves to have their knees taken out with a crow bar, for compensation for all the damage they inflicted on the people who crashed.
After pre riding the course and seeing someone already lying on the ground at corner 11, I realized the importance of starting up at the front today. So I made sure to barge my way up to the very front of the pack when we lined up. After the call ups, I was 20 back, but still close to the front. The gun went off and it was game on. I was sitting in the top 30 or so during the first lap and a guy went down right in front of me on corner 11. I unclipped in time and slid into a hay bail, but avoided going down. The pack rushed by, getting a glimpse of what was to come. Corner 11 was off camber, with sand. There was a crash there ever other lap, for 40 something laps.
I took a free lap, got back in the race, and suffered through the first 45 minutes without another mishap. I was close to the front. Holding steady between 20th and 40th on the road. I had to take two more free laps while I was involved in two more crashes in the final 30 minutes of racing. With two laps to go the pace skyrocketed and what was left of the pack split up. I stayed on my Dutch teammate, Soren’s, wheel coming in with one to go. I should have gone around him at this point and closed a gap that some guys in front of us had left open, but I didn’t. I took the next couple corners poorly and soon was gaped off with half a lap to go. I had enough in the tank to close the gap and finished 32nd, keeping in contact with the second group, a few seconds back from the front group. This moved me up to 37th GC.
I was happy with the race, but realized later that if I had taken the corners better during the last 2 laps, I could have finished in the lead group and had a chance to go for the top 10, which I think I could have pulled off since the finish was a short steep hill–which suits me well.
Let’s see, after Joe Martin we flew back to Seattle on Monday, then on Tuesday Sean dropped me off in Sherwood on his way to Bend. And just a few short days later, I went back up to Seattle on a train to meet the team for the drive out to eastern Washington to do the Wenatchee stage race. I had a terrible race here, riding a bad TT, a decent crit, and then completely failing at the road race. It’s not even worth getting into detail about. Basically I didn’t get enough rest in between Joe Martin and Wenatchee (too much riding during the week and too much traveling).
Wenatchee was my last race until this past week of racing at the Mt Hood Classic, a six-day stage race where our team won the team GC. I didn’t have any good results myself, but managed to help out the team. Now I’m sick again and our next big race is Nature Valley in Minnesota. This has been one of my main goals all year. Having a good race here will make up for the lack of results I’ve had the first half of the season. And hopefully being sick right before the race like I was for Joe Martin will give me a bit of a boost (from the extra rest).