Merco Cycling Classic Stage 4

I’m writing to you from the bus, heading back to Boulder from the Denver airport on Monday morning, mentally preparing for a long day at work followed by Team Rio Grande’s team presentation tonight at the Boulder Rio Grande restaurant. So this will have to be short and to the point with no side stories.

Okay, say you’re hiking in the mountains and you get lost for three to five weeks. Eventually you’ll starve since none of us know how to get food in the wilderness. But what if a pill was invented where you could eat parts of your own body and re-grow them later? Like a lizard’s tail. Obviously you’d have to consume more calories outside of your own flesh to do this, so the re-growing would occur later, once you’ve made your way back to civilization. Tearing and cutting chunks of flesh from your torso and butt would be excruciating, but I think this invention would be well worth the pain and a lot of people would find this beneficial. Please contact me about this if you have any experience in chemistry or pharmaceuticals and we can discuss setting up a Kickstarter. Also, I think it would be a good idea to genetically engineer our blood to taste like teriyaki sauce. That way our meat would basically be marinating for YEARS in delicious, delicious sauce. If this was invented I might find myself getting lost in the woods all the time.

Sunday morning: David and I sulked past the front desk of the Marriot at 5:55AM, hoping it wouldn’t look too suspicious that we’d been outside the hotel before 6AM for some reason and were now coming in for breakfast. If anyone asked I was going to say we’d been sleep walking. The front desk didn’t care, and we successfully snuck in to our fourth and final consecutive breakfast (and lunch). I made sure not to eat too much since the race started just two hours later. So I packed my jacket pockets to the brim.

We arrived deep in the rolling hills, surrounded entirely by almond orchards; the scene was hazed with early-morning fog, slowly clarified with the emptying of my coffee cup. The scent of pink almond blossoms filled my nostrils and the sound of waking bees filled the silence as I spun my legs out after kitting up. The race began. It started fast, averaging 30mph for the first hour (so I heard). Too many people wanted to be in the break. I was one of them, never content to let anything go without ME in it. I flatted half a lap in (there were five laps total for 120 miles) but got a quick wheel change and a good draft back up to the pack by neutral SRAM support just after we turned onto the choppy section of pavement. As soon as I got to the front I immediately began attacking and following moves, relieved the break hadn’t gotten away while I was off the back.

By lap two I’d been in what I knew was THE move–like six or eight times. CashCal was keeping things together near the end of the laps for the sprint points and Bissell was keeping things together for GC leader Gaimon, no scratch that. Bissell didn’t really hadn’t done any work by this point. They didn’t have to. We were doing it for them by chasing each other down.

On the third lap my right glute gave out suddenly and without any previous warning at all. It had been really bothering me ever since my TT training ride the afternoon of the crit, and was still sore this morning (I’ve been riding the TT bike too much?? Amazing). On lap three the pain became a stabbing pain instead of a dull throb, and for the next two and a half laps I tried to pedal 70% with my left leg. I constantly massaged it and took my right leg out to pedal only with my left. This meant I had to stop attacking (for the most part). Luckily a move got away for the majority of the third lap, then another move escaped for the lap after that.

I escaped a bad downhill crash with about 20 miles to go. Guys were crashing in front of me, behind me, and one zesty fellow even came shooting past me on the right, avoiding the brakes like a big dummy, and crashed into one of the guys on the ground. This is why you don’t try to swerve through and carry your speed during a crash. I didn’t avoid anything, just braked hard and got real lucky, and narrowly slipped through, believing that I’d used up the rest of my good luck for the race.

With 800 meters to go I was in a decent position, sitting somewhere in the top 30 before a slightly twisting, uphill effort before the 300 straight meters of false flat downhill to the finish line. I was too boxed in to move more on the uphill part. Should have done it sooner. But as we came over the top I got around on the left, moving up to a position that would have at least gotten me something like 15th, which wouldn’t have been too terrible. Baby steps. But with 250 meters to go it happened again. Two guys in front of me went down hard. Really hard this time. I jammed my brakes on, scrubbing as much speed as I could to avoid the massive amount of road rash I was about to receive. My rear brake caliper was super loose since I’d originally been riding the new 27.5 mm-wide Zipp rear before my flat, and was now on the older SRAM neutral  Zipp, which was much narrower. Also, my pinky finger was doing something weird with the shifter when I braked, I think because I’d been in the process of shifting down a gear, so neither brakes seemed to do much. Anyways, I knew I was going to crash. I didn’t crash. I came through it—an even tighter squeeze than the other time. That’s what sh…I crossed the line in a slur of excited expletives, ecstatic to be alive and pissed that guys never seem to be able to hold their line as they fight for 10th spot in a flat race where they probably sat in for 99% of the time. I finished 33rd on the day and also 33rd on GC out of the original 150 starters, meaning I got another C+ (percentage-wise). Cs get degrees. They don’t get jobs though. Or pro contracts.

All said and done, it was a grand race weekend. The final day could use some hardening up. Something to really blow the GC apart and drop the fat sprinters would be nice (not too hard to drop fat me) but I won’t complain since I had a great time and built just a bit more speed in my legs for the big ones coming up. The next race is Tucson Bicycle Classic in two weekends. And this one’s with the team!

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