Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Joe Martin stages 1 & 2

I was writing way too much for this to be one post, so I'll break it into two.

First of all, thank you everyone so much for your kind words and support over the last couple days. The messages are very much appreciated, and although I can’t respond to all of them, note that they provided quite a bit of motivation throughout the weekend. Knowing that people support and have your back makes the extra-tough efforts that much easier to commit to.

Going into this weekend, Marissa asked me what my goals were. Joe Martin Stage Race is a race that that suits me well, that I enjoy competing in, and that I had what I considered lofty aspirations for. My main goal was the Stage One time trial- this was a stage that had been firmly planted in my mind since I rode to 6th in the opening stage hill climb of San Dimas. The month of April was a singular focus towards one hill climb: from my training to my diet and everything in between, I thought about the JMSR TT daily. I considered top 10 to be an approachable target, with top 5 being my loftiest secret goal. I trained through Walla Walla, which was an important checkpoint of my form. I headed to Arkansas ready to let loose.

Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would win.

The JMSR tt course is 2.5 miles and mostly uphill. There is about 30 seconds above 30mph out of the start house till you take a corner and begin your trek uphill. It is a fairly steady grade for the entire climb, with one “flat” pitch with about a K and a half to go. I had done my research on the course, both technically and physically. I rode the hill three times before my race, and had spent an hour the night before comparing various race efforts on Strava. Then I decided that I was thinking too much and thinking was going to confuse me, so I threw everything out the window and went as hard as I could.

I rolled back to our tent after an effort I was pleased with. The last rider finished, Seba checked doping control, and saw that I was one of the three chosen to be tested. I still didn’t know what place I got! Then, my USADA chaperone came and handed me some paperwork to sign. This paperwork said “1st Place Male”.

 A lot of firsts! This was my first NRC riding for Jamis HB, my first professional win, my first leader’s jersey at a professional race, and my first time ever being tested by USADA. And so began my whirlwind of a weekend filled with learning experiences.

Stage two is a somewhat straightforward stage. 110 mostly rolling miles with a half-an-hour climb starting at about the 75-mile marker. Since we had only raced for 8 minutes so far, pretty much everyone was a GC threat. This is where Ben Jacques-Maynes and JJ Haedo come into play. They were to call the shots on the road: who was allowed in the breakaway, how fast the team would ride on the front, and when we would catch the break. Heck, Ben even told me when I should stop to pee! I can’t express enough how great it was to have riders with such experience calling the shots on the road and making my time in the leader’s jersey as stress free as possible. After a brisk 30ish K, the break finally was established to our liking and we let the gap grow. Then Guido, Ruben and Stephen got on the front and started rotating. Soon Carson was riding as well, and not long after Eloy hit the wind. I sat behind JJ and in front of Ben for 3 hours: completely sheltered from the wind and from any sort of fighting within the peleton.

At the base of the big climb the guys had brought the break to within a minute, and that gap soon dissolved as the attacks started from the main bunch. Smart Stop were being notably aggressive, with strong digs by Kenda and Optum as well. Soon it was just Carson, Ben and myself left to cover the moves, and we crested the climb with the remnants of the peleton all together. The last 30 miles of the race are all downhill, and we covered them in less than an hour. I was very excited to see Stephen and JJ muscle their way back to the front of the group, and again it was Carson, Stephen and Ben powering away on the front.

The last 2k of this course are wild. You go from a 6 lane wide highway into a sharp left-right chicane on narrow roads directly followed by short/punchy rollers. Positioning is key- too far back into the first corner and you will never see the front. Too far forward and you will fade/get swarmed on the rollers in the last K. The finish stretch is 350 meters of very uphill terrain, and it is common for time gaps to occur in the closing meters. In order to protect me against these time gaps, our finish plan was for me to fight like hell for JJ’s wheel in the closing kilometers, because JJ “will be in the right place”. Sure enough, after a bit of battling, I went into the critical corner on JJ’s wheel and in about 8th place. Perfect! JJ jumped with about 300 m to go, I stayed on the wheel, and we were able to go 1-2 on the stage. This was an ideal ending for the guys who slayed themselves on the front all stage.

2nd on the stage gave me a six second time bonus (plus a 2 second time gap after the fourth place person on the stage), so I went into Saturday’s road race with a slightly more comfortable 11 second margin.

Also, I'm only using photos from the race taken from Twitter or taken by myself or my team. No screenshots. There were some amazing photographers at the race, and I bought the rights to those photos. I'll use those photos at some point.

Our Guest Director, Ed Beamon, took the photo of the gorilla.

Tomorrow I'll post the rest of the weekend. To ruin the ending:

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Walla Walla Walla Walla


Tour of Walla Walla is a race that I’ve wanted to win for some time now. Last year I won two stages, but the overall eluded me by a second. The general goal of this weekend was to avoid losing by pedaling harder than the competition. This tactic seemed to work out, so I will take that mentality into my future races.

Carson and I loaded up my car and headed into a strange and foreign world. This world was a stage race without any sort of…adult supervision… to say the least. I don’t remember the last time I raced a stage race without Alan, or more recently Seba, looking after my needs and taking care of everything but the racing part of the weekend. Who would navigate to the races? What happens when I get thirsty? What do I do in the event of inclement weather??

Luckily for me I had rap music, burritos and Doug Sumi to make my world feel more stable, so I set about the bike racing part. 

We arrived in Walla Walla early on Thursday, and went for a tremendously damp pre-race ride on the TT course. Carson had neglected to wash his bike before we left, so he was acting a bit more smug than I was on my freshly cleaned TT bike. After a rough hour, we decided that we were more than done with the bike drowning. Then, we headed to Allegro Cyclery to talk about Jamis Bikes and scary things like mountain bike trails. I am not feeling very creative this morning so I’m sorry this isn’t exciting yet. Then, there was a massive car chase through the streets of Walla Walla! Chunk from the Goonies had stolen an ice cream truck (crazy guy!) and was driving erratically while shooting a squirt gun out the window. Then Hulk Hogan and the entire cast of American Gladiator created a human roadblock in order to stop Chunk and his crazy goals. They succeeded!

Friday morning we went for another ride. Then we went to the bike race, where we staged twice, were delayed twice, and then eventually cancelled. The stage had a section of road on a highway, and highways require Certified Flaggers. The flaggers didn’t show up due to some confusion, so we couldn’t race. There was a lot of grumbling about this, but I think all those who were cranky were forgetting a pretty basic piece of information: that it is MUCH better to not race than it is to get HIT BY A TRUCK!

The stage cancellation allowed me to scheme even harder for the Saturday morning TT. We arrived at the course early, since Carson was one of the first starters and I was one of the last, and set about our routines. Carson’s involved riding for about six minutes and realizing he was warmed up, whereas mine consisted of about 40 minutes of riding before I began to feel like an athlete again. The course is 8.something miles, and gradually climbs for the first 6ish minutes before kicking up for 3 minutes, and then descending all the way to the line. At 38mph. I knew it was important to get to the top of the climb quick, so I made sure and crush the beginning extra hard. In hindsight, I went out too hard and struggled in the second half of the race. As usual with TT’s, I was completely destroyed after, and was pleasantly surprised to see that I had won by 12 seconds. In more great news, Carson had ridden into the top 10 as well, giving us a good card to play in Sunday’s road race.

Saturday afternoon brought terrible wind, dark clouds, and pinning my first yellow jersey. I’ve been in the GC lead in one other stage race, but there wasn’t a race leaders jersey. The weather held off, and we didn’t have a rainy crit- this is always pleasant when you’re trying to stay safe and conserve energy.

credit: Chris Shepley
The crit was averagely frightening. It was also only 55 minutes, which is quite a bit shorter than the 90+ minute NCC’s that I’d been doing the last couple of weekends, so all of a sudden it was game time. I found myself too far back on the last lap after overcorrecting to get past a crash, and came into the second-to-last corner about 20th wheel. I knew that the race really ended as you came out of the last corner, as the tailwind finish stretch didn’t allow much passing.  When the door opened on the second-to-last straightaway I jumped as hard as I could up the inside, and had a clear run to the corner. Unfortunately for me, Dave Richter jumped about one second too early and although my full head of steam got me past everyone else, Dave won the race to the last corner and that’s how we finished. Second in the crit got me 6 more seconds of time, which put me 15 seconds in the lead going into Sunday’s road race.

I really enjoy the road race course that we get to do to end the weekend. It's lumpy, windy, and just an overall hard day in the saddle whether you are riding off the front, in the group, or off the back. 

You could argue that this is an easy race to control. I'd say no, but the countless hills are tempting for attacks, so much of the second half of the race we spent chasing attacks immediately instead of turning it over for K's at a time on the front. OK, I lied. I followed the dangerous attacks on the hills and Carson had a really hard day of tempo- keeping the four-man breakaway within a minute and a half all day. Although there were no *immediate* threats to the GC lead in the breakaway, almost everyone is a threat when you've only raced for a total of an hour and ten minutes.

On that second-to-last climb at about the 78 mile mark, Jacob Rathe from Jelly Belly attacked hard. He wasn't one of the closest guys on GC, but we still hadn't caught the breakaway and I was getting a bit ancy. I followed Jacob and 3rd on GC over the top of the climb, hoping that me being active would urge some chasing from the other teams in the race, most who had been sitting on contently for the last 70 miles. 

Jacob kept the pressure on for several minutes, and I pulled through with some motivation. Soon, our group of 8 was rolling well-enough together, and we began to distance the field. We caught the breakaway at the base of the last climb, and now all I had to do to win GC was make sure that we all finished together.

This would be no easy task, however. I temporarily thought it was going to be as we all rotated evenly heading down the final descent. Thoughts of "maybe I'll have a go at the stage win" were ever-present in my head. Then, as they should've, people started to attack our group. Everyone seemed pretty content to let me chase, as they should've, so I did. After around 7 attacks, it was finally time to sprint. Here I did my best to not get a time gap in the last 200 meters, because my legs got extremely angry at me when I stood up to accelerate an 8th time.

I didn't lose time, and I won the GC! 

The race continued after the stage. I attacked Benny, Carson, and Colin on the ride back to the parking lot. Then got dressed fast, raced from Waitsburg back to host housing, showered, packed, and left in 20 minutes, then met Doug at Taqueria Yungapetis. This is Alan Schmitz's favorite burrito place in Walla Walla, so we both sent him photos of us eating burritos. He was angry.

Then I drove home Sunday night, spent Monday in Seattle, and got on a plane Tuesday to fly to Arkansas. Hello! Joe Martin Stage Race starts tomorrow with a 2.5 mile uphill time trial. I am very excited.

I'll try and be more creative next time.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Charlotte/Belmont crits

Mixed feelings, dude. I’ve had a solid change of heart in the last couple of years, with my ambitions and excitements within the cycling world switching almost a complete 180.

Gone are the days where I wouldn’t start a road race or would soft pedal a time trial because there was a crit the next day.  I just looked back at this post from 2011, where I was thrilled to be at a weekend of only crit racing, with “not even one foolish uphill TT to worry about”. Rigghttttt. 

Since present-day Ian has been scheming about the uphill Joe Martin time trial all month, it’s fairly apparent that things have switched inside my head. Speaking of things inside your head, did you ever read the Animorph books as a kid? Or recently? I don’t remember too much the premise, but I do remember that the bad guys were some sort of worm-type creatures that crawled into your brain through your ear canal and then controlled your actions. The heroes were people that could turn into animals. This was all based on a true story, which is a pretty neat unknown fact about the Animorphs series.

My mission? See if I could “criteriumorph” (see what I did there??) myself for the Novant Health and Belmont crits- taking place in and around Charlotte, North Carolina. These past two weeks were a good opportunity for me to jump in with the crit dawgs and continuously remind myself that bike racing will absolutely NEVER be easy.

There are two major crit series in the United States: The USAcrits series and the NCC. I truthfully have no idea what is the difference or even what these races I did this weekend were, but I know that they were part of some series. To help us both follow along, I’ve included the acronyms for each series:

USACRITS: U Should Always Chop Repeatedly Into Tight Sweepers
NCC: No Cautious Cornerers

Novant Health, formally Charlotte Presby, is the richest crit in the United States. This brings the highest quality field out to downtown Charlotte. This, combined with large primes nearly every lap, makes for a very rapid race. 
The course was a dumbbell shape, with the bar being a road that you go out and back on. So when people were being fast and going in the breakaway, you could see them coming directly at you every half lap!

I was optimistic heading into Saturday’s 7:30pm race. I thought with all the primes there would be ample opportunity for me to slip off the front and in the process win two to seven $500 primes, lap the field alone, and make somewhere around $16,000. Thinking more realistically, I was hoping to be active and represented in breakaway attempts, win a prime, and help Demis in the finish in any way I could.

Things started out poorly when less than four minutes into the race the 15 guys infront of me crashed and I powerslid to stop- allmooossssttttt jumping off the bike at speed. I headed to the pit with the crowd, and they threw us back into the race…. off the front. What! Soon there was some chaos as the field, going way faster than us, swarmed the crowd of lap-one pit victims. This moment also marked my only showing at the front of  the field for the entire 50 mile crit! Soak it in readers, for the next 85 minutes I gradually lost every fight for every corner I was attempting to take. I became the easy guy to pass, I’m sure, because my brakes were my closest friends all night.

I’ve never been incredible at holding position in aggressive crits. This is made worse for me with a field full of crit dawgs instead of stage racers considering the crit stage a rest day. I never really felt in control all race until I had made my way all the way backwards through the field against my will. Soon I was tail gunning and fairly grumpy.

Fitness wise, things were easy. I was nose breathing for the majority of the race, but any time I tried to move up I would promptly begin to ride terribly in the corners. The good news is that races like this give me the practice I pretty clearly desperately need. This sort of experience doesn’t come with any sort of local race “jostling for position” or even road racing. USAcrits and NCC’s are a different battle.

Speaking of different battles, let’s talk about how much more fun I had at the Belmont Crit the next day!

Instead of a completely flat and fast course like Saturday’s, Sunday featured "features six turns and a monster hill climbing toward the finish line". It was marvelous.

I really like these style of crits: ones that are strung out single file for most of the race, reliant on fitness, and have most of the crazy passes happening on the climb. This course was very short, so we did 45 laps in the hour of racing. Short laps creates less rest for the climb, which means that people started getting dropped on roughly lap two.

Much to my dismay, I was the last person on the start line. I don’t really know how that happened, but I used my extra time to ride circles behind the group and pass about 30 people while they struggled to clip in off the line.

Given the nature of the course, I knew that it was going to be a day of attrition. I also knew that you had to be smart about when and where you used your energy. The problem with starting at the back is I was almost gapped off by people getting dropped in the opening laps. I did my best to be smooth, steady, and slowly pick my way to the front. It took me about 25 minutes, but I found the front of the race and was feeling great.

The next 25 minutes I followed attacks and made a few of my own, but nothing serious developed. With 12 laps to go United Healthcare was on the front making it fast, and I was feeling pretty comfortable in the diminished peleton. I was trying hard to be aggressive and hold my place, and I think I did a decent job. It was a much better fight than Saturday, anyway.

I mistakenly let myself get too comfortable, watched UHC go even faster, and fell victim to some gaps being opened in front of me. I did a decent uphill sprint, passed a guy, and finished somewhere around 14th or 15th. However, I was listed as DNF on the results like most of the rest of the field, which is inconvenient because I was in the money!

Way more fun.

Side note, if I were an Animorph I think I would be a puppy. I know that you were probably expecting me to say a fierce and awesome animal like a gorilla, mountain lion, phoenix, Vin Diesel or a giant polar bear. I guess those last two are pretty much the same, but yes I still choose puppy. They live a great life! Speaking of puppies, while I was staged directly last for the Belmont Crit, I was able to watch a very lively Aussie Shepherd pup instigate then play fight with a MASSIVE Great Dane of sorts.

Now you can see why I chose puppy: Loveable, approachable and brave. And SOFT. Wooooow.

Minus tough-guy points. Whatever.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Foothills RR

After a late night and a hard crit, our 9 am start and 7:15 departure for the Foothills RR came too soon. However, it was easy for me to get out the door because I was very excited to get to do a road race. The weather forecast looked foul, so as I giddily put on booties, a rain jacket, and wool gloves, my Argentinean teammates shoved manila envelopes down the front of their jerseys. It was 57 degrees.

I knew almost nothing about the 41 mile race course that we would do twice, but I figured that the best way to race would be to attack until I was off the front and then just go from there. If it started raining, I was almost certain the early break would stay away. 30 minutes into the race I found myself solo off the front after attacking over the top of a little roller. Good news: I was off the front. Not as good news: I turned the corner to what I discovered was the hard part of the course. The steep, one-mile long climb was rough alone, but I figured that the best climbers would attack up it, bridging across to me, and then I’d be in the break. So I kept on the gas and as I crested the climb a group led by Chris Butler of Hincapie came across and just like that I was in the break. There were 7 of us, all equally motivated. No one skipped any turns for an hour, and I was sure that we would stay away. Then all of a sudden we were caught, and I was confused and grumpy.

I rested for a couple minutes then started scheming again. We had just completed one lap, so now I was an…expert… on the course. I knew the hard climb came 13 miles into the lap, so I decided to not do anything till that point so I would be fresh to follow the inevitable attacks. Sure enough Butler and Ryan Knapp, two guys who were in the first move with me as well, took off and I followed. It was just us three at the top, and we set about pedaling hard.

After a couple minutes, several more riders came across the gap and we were a group of nine. After what felt like too long at 25 seconds, our gap grew up to above a minute and I figured we were gone.

This group wasn’t as smooth as the first lap breakaway, but we worked well enough together. I was trying hard to not be the hero of the break and ride super hard, but I also wanted to make sure we stayed away. I was confident in my sprinting out of the small group, so I decided early on that it would be best for me if we all stayed together. Conveniently enough, the course got easier as you got closer to the line, so there weren’t any obvious launching points.

I was maybe a bit over excited as the attacks started going with a couple K to go- I was always one of the first to cover to make sure that nothing got away.  My biggest mistake came at about 2 k to go. Maybe it was 3 k to go, I wasn’t really sure where we were on the course compared to the finish line. I’m not sure if I would’ve played it differently if I knew how close we were, but at some point near the finish I covered an attack and had maybe 100 meters on the group. I should’ve attacked all in here and tried to go solo the remainder of the race. Every tactical switch in my brain was flipped to “ATTACK NOW” but my pre-determined plan of sprinting won out in that split-second of decisiveness. That is something that I really need to work on in bike racing: following my gut instinct instead of being so tied to a plan that I can’t adapt based on situations. Who knows if it would’ve worked, but a large part of success in bike racing is being able to respond to the situations that unfold on the course and capitalize on them.

It is also really easy to look back on decide where you could’ve been better. I didn’t attack, and waited to sprint. The problem with this tactic was as I followed the wrong, slowing wheel into the last corner, Thomas Brown from Astellas jumped hard and came out of the corner with several bike lengths of a gap.

I did a decent sprint, but had done myself no favors with how I set myself up. Brown was gone, and I was closing on 2nd but ran out of room.

Bike racing is cool because every race you can learn something. It’s been awhile since I’ve made the successful break in a road race, so I’ll chalk this one up as a mildly successful learning experience. I was happy to finish on the podium, but I know this is a race I could’ve won. It’s fuel for the fire, and even though the Foothills RR wasn’t an NRC or a UCI race, I’m happy to spend thirty minutes in the pack, an hour off the front, thirty minutes in the pack, and then the final hour off the front of any race. That’s a decent way to make your legs hurt in an 80 mile race.

I’m in the van headed towards Charlotte, NC for a weekend of crit racing. I’m just going to disconnect my brakes for this one so I can always stay in the front. Unfortunately, I may have increased my coffee addiction with the ease of the Jura machine at our Anniston host house. I’ll check out the local caf├ęs in Charlotte and let you know where to go.

We’re driving through Atlanta now, so I’ll leave you with these words from a famous poet:

Tell me who’s your housekeeper and whatchu keep in your house,
What about diamonds and gold, is that whatchu keep in your MOUF?

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Sunny King Crit

I’m not in a plane, but I am in the backseat of a van headed somewhere across the lower-right part of the US. We have four people + all of our stuff + my bike bag +exactly 1 million wheels in one minivan so space is somewhat tight. As stated in the name of the vehicle, it is a “miniature” van, so I have sixish sets of wheels on my lap. Here’s proof:

We are headed from Anniston, Alabama to Charlotte, North Carolina. Before I get into that, let’s rewind to which I am going to talk about as Thursday but I really don’t remember what day it was.

Thursday I got on an airplane in Seattle to make my way South for the bicycle tournaments in Alabama. My flight took me through Vegas, where instead of blowing all of my money gambling, I blew all my money gambling. On airport food-because my flight to Birmingham was delayed by somewhere from 2-5 hours. The airport wasn’t quite sure. The delay would mean I was set to land in Alabama at midnight, which is exactly when the shuttle to my airport hotel stopped running.

After spending almost thirty dollars on two meals and two coffees, I left Vegas. Based on this blog, it’s now apparent that what happens in Vegas does not stay in Vegas, it goes on I’m fairly angry at myself for making such a basic joke about Vegas but I’m in a van, not a plane. I’m not in my optimal thinking zone.

The best part of my 3.5 hour flight was the free TV that was accessible through the normally extremely expensive airplane WiFi. For some reason you could watch the TV without buying the WiFi, so I watched the Mariner’s game. Which was dddope.

Southern hospitality started almost immediately after I got my luggage in Birmingham. I found a taxi at almost the same time as another person, and since it was well past midnight “there shuuure aint gon’ be another taxi for awhile now”. Since I was now 14ish hours into my travel day, I knocked the other guy over the head with my bike bag and took the taxi on my own. Just kidding, can you imagine? We shared the taxi, and I got out first. I pulled out my wallet to pay my part of the fare, and my cab-sharer said he would pay my fare! I love saving $7.

Demis picked me up in the morning and we drove the hour to Anniston. Here I met my friends for the next couple days:


We had great hosts who made sure we had everything we needed all weekend. They’re the owners of the local Mellow Mushroom pizza establishment, which before this weekend I had a different impression of. I thought it was fast food, similar to Little Caesars. From this thought, I had always avoided Mellow Mushroom’s while traveling in the South. I was wrong! It is good pizza. Now you know.

Anyways, bike racing. Saturday was the Sunny King Criterium. It is a long rectangular course on a hill, so the finish stretch was uphill. It’s always shocking doing twilight crits after doing races in the sunshine, so I chopped my shadow A LOT. I felt good in the leg area of the bike race and tried to be active and present, but I was struggling with the game of chicken that happened every lap on the downhill, narrow-fenced corner. This game = who will brake last! If you won the game, you went into the corner with speed and didn’t have to reaccelerate hard leading into the climb. If you lost the game, you were all of a sudden 50 guys back going 10mph. If you really lost the game, you ran into the fence. I never really lost, but I did lose most times which made most of my race a mission of pedaling my way back into the important part of the bike race, rather than pedaling my way off the front of the important part of the bike race.

Naturally, one of the laps I used my brakes too much was just about when UHC decided to start pedaling fast. As the field strung out single file, I was the happiest I’d been all race but was too far back. Gaps were opening everywhere, and I did essentially a 4 lap solo time trial effort to try and get back to the front.  This meant my sprint at the end of those four laps was a massive 12 watts, and I finished 17th on the day. Crit racing is splendid though, because for 17th place I made $240.

Saturday night included many of the joys of twilight crit racing: Home at 1030, eat, shower, in bed at 1115, and not fall asleep till 1AM. This isn’t normally a problem with crit weekends, but instead of a crit Sunday there was a road race!

I just realized that this post is too many words and I haven’t talked about the road race yet, so I’ll do two posts. Cool. I’m talking to myself right now, so get out of my mind.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

San Dimas Stage Race

After a whirlwind two-day return to Seattle, I am back on the plane and heading South-east towards Alabama and two weeks of crit racing: Sunny King and Charlotte.

It’s easy in this profession to always be moving forward- always focusing upon the next race or the next trip. Often times experiences or moments get left in the past, simply a hazy memory in our relentless journey towards... something. I think that’s one of the reasons bike racing, as well as bike racers, as a whole exists. We have short-term memories: often choosing to forget the pain each race brings, the shuffle of travel on our daily lives, and the really bad moments. You always remember the good moments simply as a snapshot and the bad moments as something to build upon. What happens to the details? One of the reasons that I started this blog was to have an excuse to do something involving funny pictures. Another reason was I wanted to have a record of all the experiences that I get the pleasure of having while doing this racing thing.

San Dimas Stage Race was a late addition to my calendar, and one that I was very excited about having the chance to do again. After throwing up/away my Tucson Bicycle Classic, I was ready for an early-season stage race to get a chance to help the team in any way I could.

I’ve done SDSR before, with mediocre to average results. Although the road race is sketchy and the time trial is uphill, I’ve always enjoyed racing here. The punchy climbs in the road race suit me well and although fairly steep, the time trial is a time trial. And I like those.

Friday morning started off with me spending money, which seems to be quite standard for life on the road. We didn’t race till later that afternoon, and I needed coffee. Again, this is something quite standard for my life. However, the Motel 6 had no means for boiling water, so Carson and I purchased a $20 kettle at Target, effectively turning our room into AeroPress party central. After somewhere between 3 and 18 AeroPresses, we rode to the race. Then we went right past the race and headed for an hour-long spin. I schemed heavily here: things like pacing tactics, last minute weight loss methods, and which flavor drink mix would best bring out my crazy. I settled for lemonade flavor, and got about my warmup.

For those who haven’t done the TT up Glendora Mt Rd, it starts off with about a minute and a half of false-flat heading into the first corner, and with that the first pitches of the climb. The overall effort is 4.25 miles, or if you want to make your race seem longer, some amount larger than that in Km’s. The first 90 seconds are the only time above 20mph all race.

Time trial reports are boring. I rode hard, was happy with how I paced it, and finished feeling like this:

You can choose which one I was, because truthfully I felt a bit like both.

Results came in and I was very pleased to finish 6th on the stage. This was my best result in a time trial at this level and I was content, for many reasons. I’ve put in a lot of work this winter on the time trial bike, so I knew I had the practice at sustained efforts for an extended amount of time. However, this wasn’t really a time trial as much as it was a hillclimb. I was on a road bike, not a time trial machine. Sure they are different styles of races, but in the end it is still a matter of focus, brain disease, and desire. Our team stacked the top 6, with Gregory in 2nd by a second and Daniel not far behind in 4th.

Then, something amazing happened. We went to Olive Garden for dinner.

Besides that, there was an earthquake. My favorite part of this earthquake was when every questionable character outside smoking at the Motel 6 became an expert on natural occurrences like these- trying to make conversations about the epicenter and wavelength frequencies.

The earthquake caused some concerns for our road race course, as the loop circles a large dam.  Our start was delayed, and our race shortened as a result. Luckily, the dam didn’t break because I don’t like swimming that much.

Luis got up the road in the breakaway, taking the lead in the KOM and Sprint jersey competitions. Myself, Gregory and Daniel all tried our hand at following moves across to the break, but had no success. I finished comfortably in the front group (for the first time at SDSR), but the break had stayed away. It was an unfavorable move for us, and as a result we all lost several spots in the GC.

Going into the crit, we had Luis in 4th, Gregory in 8th, Daniel in 9th, and myself in 12th on the GC. We had two goals: 1) protect Luis’ lead in the sprint competition 2) be active with Greg, Daniel and myself, forcing a difficult race which would hopefully allow Luis to get away in the final moments gaining precious GC seconds.

Both Carson and I wore a long sleeve skinsuit, which means we meant business. Also hilarious, it was warm out and pretty much the only people wearing long sleeves in the race were Carson and myself- the two dudes from Seattle who in theory should have been way warmer than anyone.

Also, Tela came to watch me, and since she doesn’t get to see me race much anymore I knew it was important to not suck.

For the two intermediate sprints (60 min to go and 30 min to go), we had to make sure that either Luis won or one of us scored points to keep the closest threat from moving into first in the competition. I was in great position for the first sprint and won it- taking the 15 points and a 3 second time bonus. The second sprint came soon enough, and I found myself second wheel with Luis behind me. I started my sprint with 800 m to go, cornered hard, and dug to the line. Luis stayed on my wheel, letting me win the sprint while still securing points for himself.  With the sprint competition locked up, it was time to start thinking about the finish.

Luis towed me around, providing by far the smoothest last five laps of any crit that I’ve done at this level. I lost his wheel with one to go, made a big surge to get it back, and went into the final corner 5th wheel. This is also where I finished, which makes it my best crit result at this level since 2011. 

The time bonuses from the intermediate sprints moved me back up to tenth overall (take that Kennett!) and into second in the green jersey competition. I was happy with how I rode, but also needed to keep the weekend in perspective.

This is my job. Our team’s job is to win races. We didn’t win any of the stages, so although my personal results were strong for where I’ve been in the past, there is still room to progress. Because of that, I am happier with winning the intermediate sprints than I am with the 5th in the race. I did a job that helped the team achieve an objective, and as I continue to develop in my first season as a professional, I need to continue to do what I can to help my team and teammates achieve their goals.

San Dimas was a good momentum and confidence builder for myself and I plan on growing as a rider with every opportunity I have to race.

This post was long, sorry. There also weren’t any jokes, and most people probably didn’t read this far. That’s fine though, because this weekend is something that I want to have record of. I was able to look back at my first trip to San Dimas in 2011, and I plan on looking back on this post when I win San Dimas in the future.

Reflection over, NOW I can start thinking about the next races.