I’ve been awarded three nicknames this season: Ferdinand (The Bull), Big’uns, and Catfish. Ferdinand was the first, given to me at our team training camp in Agoura Hills way back in March. I tend to break things quite frequently, like a bull in a china shop. Plus I say and accomplish somewhat questionable (dumb) things a lot. Affectionately, I’m sure, Joe Holmes chose the name Ferdinand The Bull for me as a combination dumb bull/bull in a china shop. The name was certainly deserved. The second nickname, Big’uns, was given to me by our host at Cascade. Lang made sure the name stuck. It, like Ferdinand, also has a double meaning: “big guns” and also just plain “big” (two things no cyclist is proud of—large arms and being heavy. Unfortunately it is also a well-deserved name. And finally my most recent nickname was earned at the Tour of Utah: Catfish—because I look like a catfish when I’m hurting (mouth gaping open like a fish struggling to breath while out of the water). There’s some pretty good pics of the Catfish in action at the Tour of Utah crit. Why am I going into all this detail for a race report? Because I put all three nicknames to good use today. Very good use.
Woke up at 6:15. About five or six hours earlier than I like. Got a ride with Todd Haggeman (the guy who helped us out with housing in Utah) and John (Northwave rep). I made a fool of myself by introducing myself to John this morning (I had forgotten that I met and talked with him a few days ago). FERDINAND.
We drove to the race and I kept getting whiffs of urine. Either the dogs here at my host house peed on my jacket, or I was wearing an un-washed pair of socks from the tour of Utah that may or may not have gotten doused with a bit of wee. FERDINAND.
We got to the race. I accidentally dropped my bike on the ground. FERDINAND. I also still hadn’t cleaned up the vomit all over my frame left over from that last stage of Utah—sugar cookie incident. FERDINAND. (Sorry Joe. Don’t worry, Velonews wasn’t there).
The race started to the blasting of a Civil War canon. It was loud. I followed an attack or two in the first mile. We were all in our biggest gears, a heavy tail wind throwing us forward at 33 mph. After a slew of hard attacks and some short-term guttering, I launched a counter attack and got away with two other guys. We drilled it for about 20 miles while the peloton slowly but surely lost its 30-second grasp on us. We got out of sight and built up about four minutes on them. Only one of the guys was doing any considerable work with me. The other guy was just pulling through and immediately sliding off the front, just going through the motions. He may have been smart. After all, there were a lot of miles left to race. I was not thinking of this. I was drilling it. I was sucking air. CATFISH. (The tour of Utah took more out of me than any race I’ve ever done. That, combined with the four and a half hour ride I did two days before this race had me hurting before we even left the start line). So I was really sucking a lot of air.
The course was 98 miles of super heavy wind and small rolling hills. I was right at home. We took a wrong turn though (while I was on the front) and temporarily got lost. FERDINAND. It was all right though, don’t worry! We doubled back and got on track. Although, we did lose a few minutes and were caught by a bridging move ten minutes later at mile 46.
About ten guys bridged to us. We all messed around for a bit, attacking and sitting on and what not. I covered all the moves since there were really only two big teams in our move now, both with about three or four guys a piece that took turns trying to get away. There were a couple loners like myself in the break as well. Eventually five of us broke away in the cross/headwind. Two orange team guys and two Canyon Bicycle guys. The odds weren’t in my favor. After 20 more miles of riding in the wind I was sucking more and more air. CATFISH. Thoughts of sitting on occurred to me but I pushed those thoughts away, deciding to suck air like a catfish instead.
20 more miles in and the fresh guys I was riding with were starting to look more and more like catfish themselves (none had been off the front since mile two like I had, but some had been at the tour of Utah so they weren’t that fresh). In fact, we started to look like a typical Louisiana bayou fishing scene: a row of five catfish on the muddy bank, wide-eyed, sucking wind with gaping mouths, failing to process any oxygen with their water-loving gills, flopping aimlessly in a confused attempt to get back to the water. I dug through my pockets and plunged fist-fulls of nasty, sticky Swedish Fish and black liquorish down my gullet (which I had stupidly coated in sea salt the night before). FERDINAND.
20 more miles and we were crawling along in the headwind at 12 mph, the peloton behind us having given up at last, a significant number of them dropping out.
With seven miles to go we got to a very gradual hill. An orange guy attacked. A Canyon Bike guy closed the gap with me on his wheel. He countered the orange guy I think (I can’t really remember all the details). Anyways, I ended up on someone’s wheel going up this really un-steep hill in the crosswind with one guy on my wheel. I started breathing extra heavy, trying to trick the guy in front into thinking I was about to pop if he kept up the pace. He kept going hard (the fool!) He slowed a bit as he began to crack and I ATTACKED!! And I broke him and the guy on my wheel like my bike frame this year (airline’s fault not mine), broke them like my rear wheel which I broke a few weeks ago, like the 11 flats I’ve had in races this year, like the three times I’ve broken my power tap this year, like my ipod, like my laptop, like the five spatulas at host houses I’ve burnt on stoves, like the window(s) I broke this year, like all my lady-friend’s hearts (OK that may not be 100% accurate) but the point is I broke them like frail twigs, gave a Lance look-back, said goodbye and soloed the last six miles to the finish line…where I gave a one-armed flex as I crossed under the finish banner. BIG’UNS.
After the race I feasted on chicken at the free BBQ (yeah there was a bbq. Jealous?) I chugged a bunch of this really sweet canned nectar juice stuff, then threw up orange liquid all over the grass right in front of a long line of people waiting to serve themselves for the bbq. FERDINAND OUT.
Here’s some pictures, mainly of the drive out to the race. I stopped taking pictures part way through the drive so you don’t quite get the full experience of being there. It got a lot dryer and rocker as we went further south towards the race.
Todd, John, and I went out for pizza and to look at pretty girls after the race. I didn’t get any pictures of the pizza, this is just driving through an area that was close to the pizza. It has real nice lights.