Friday, June 20, 2014

I will title this post "blahbliddyblahdeedah" because I didn't choose a title BEFORE writing like I normally would

This is a great sport. Every race I go to reminds me of that simple, basic fact.

From afar, every bike race is the same. You pedal around, and someone wins. The sport is doing a tremendous job of reminding me that is about as far as you can get from the truth. I am amazed at how green I still am with this bike racing thing and am learning, what I consider to be huge things, at every race I go to. I've been racing bikes since I was 11! What a crazy, wild, incredible sport.

I'm nine races behind, so I am probably going to avoid the whole race report blahbliddyblahdeedah (very fun to say out-loud, try it) and instead go big picture style. Speaking of big pictures, I have recently watched, on small screens, Non-Stop and The World's End. Non-Stop was an entertaining movie featuring Liam Neeson. If you have seen ANY Liam Neeson movie, you have also seen Non-Stop. The World's End was, I thought, a different Genre of film. I enjoy British humor because they say silly words. All of a sudden they were fighting robots, and I was confused. So that's my world in a nutshell.

UCI GP Saguenay
OK, I wrote about Philly. We continued to drive North. We left the US, and somehow ended up in France. We had "lunch" at a Tim Hortons- not sure why people like this place- and I had a sign language argument with the cashier that didn't go well. I don't speak sign. This was a continued trend throughout the week: our hotel maid spoke no english and I almost certain that Stephen and I were getting yelled at for SOMETHING everytime that she came in while we were basically still asleep. I tried saying "merci" and "weeeeee", which caused her to give me towels and leave. I learned in France that WeeMerci means "we need more towels, please and thank you".

Besides the country change, this race also had a couple new experiences for me. Turns out that I have never done a UCI stage race, and some of the requirements for these events are provided meals and housing. Everyone from the race stayed at the same hotel, and ate the same race buffet breakfasts and dinners. This was a prime opportunity to try and sabotage other teams, but I learned quickly that by the time that meals happened I was so focused on consuming as many dessert creme puffs as possible to focus on other people.

The race was intense. It consisted of three ~160km circuit races and one 75km crit. With no time trials, the mid-race time bonus sprints were very important for the GC. Each day was full gas, all day, because at any given point everyone was a GC threat. We had a great week: JJ won the crit after every guy BUT me crushed it in the leadout. I was a victim of their speed and watched from the gutter. Luis and I spent the week sprinting for bonus seconds, and Stephen, Robbie, Carson and Tyler raced super aggressively to set us up for those time bonuses. Luis finished 3rd and I ended up 5th on GC.

One thing I did learn: there were MANY languages being yelled all weekend. English swearwords are the only curse words that are universal. Thank you Hollywood.

NRC North Star Grand Prix
Quite thankfully I took an airplane from Quebec City to Minneapolis. Our 15 hour travel day is a blog post on its own, but I'll forget about that. It involved JJ being "randomly selected" three different times, and JJ and Luis paying $150 for their bike cases while the same lady only charged me $30.

I thought that this race would be an... easier... NRC stage race because although six stages, three of those were crits, one was a short road bike time trial, and the other two were gently rolling road races.

WRONG. The race started Wednesday morning. On Thursday night, I painfully rolled over and sadly realized that it was still Thursday and we somehow were only halfway done with the race. Ouch.

Wednesday was the short time trial in the morning and a twilight crit. Ben smashed the TT pretty well for 6th, and the rest of us were scattered in the 10s-30s. As is the norm with sub-11 minute efforts, I coughed for 3-7 hours immediately following my race. The twilight crit was relatively straight-forward. Optum let a break go, which Ruben surfed. He was 13th in the TT, so it was a good card for us to have up the road. Optum brought the break back, and with two to go Luis hit the front with Ben, myself, and JJ following behind. Luis did a full lap on the front, and Ben led us through the finish with one to go. He took it all the way to the second-to-last straightaway, and I slowly ramped up the speed into the last corner. I came out of the corner first, continued to accelerate, and held it to the line. JJ had backed off into the last corner, opening up the gap for me and giving me the opportunity to get the stage win. He didn't need to come around, so we were able to go 1-2 on the stage! 

Photo from Velonews.
One of my goals going into this season was to be part of a successful leadout for JJ. This was the first full leadout that I've been a part of and it was an incredibly cool experience. Luis and Ben were amazing, and made it so the team would be in a position to win. JJ backed off, and made it so I was in the position to win.

At the end of the day, anytime there are two Jamis HB jerseys on the podium it is a good day. 
credit: Joe Holmes

Thursday's road race was the hardest race of my life. I think. Heavy winds for 3.5 hours blew the field to shreds, and 12 of us (5 Optum and 4 of us!) went onto the final circuits 4 minutes up on the remnants of the field. Luis made the select front group of four and finished second on the day, moving up to 2nd on GC.

Friday and Saturday were predictable. The GC race was down to the 12 guys who finished in the front split on Thursdy, so the race leader's team could pretty much let any breakaway go to the line that didn't have one of the 11 other guys from Thursday's front group in it. Friday I practiced guarding JJ's wheel, and Saturday I rode in the rain freezing for what felt like two hours but was probably closer to 30 minutes. We all attacked like spider monkeys on the closing circuits, but the 2+ inches of standing water on the course and the 100 corners per lap made attacking difficult.

Photo: BMW Dev Team
Sunday was the Stillwater Crit, another race that I've always wanted to do. Any race that finishes with a front group of 18 guys is alright in my book. We had Luis 16 seconds out of the lead, but also had JJ, Ben, and myself all in the top 10. We had to put pressure on Optum early, so Ben went in the breakaway. They had to chase all day to keep the gap at 20 seconds, and the rest of us tucked in behind them and waited. With 6 to go we were about 8 seconds back and Luis had me attack. I went hard up the hill and went across the gap with Travis McCabe, integrating with the break then forming a new split. We were brought back, but I was happy to see that Optum was down a couple riders. Luis attacked HARD with three to go, splitting the group into less than ten guys and isolating the yellow jersey. I knew that this was an optimal time to counter-attack, and as I started to get out of the saddle to accelerate up the right side, McCabe went up the left. The group moved right, pinching me on the curb, and Travis rode away. He held on to win the stage, and a group of 17 of us sprinted for the rest.

We weren't able to get the seconds we needed, but we raced very hard. Luis was second, and JJ, Ben and myself all finished in the top ten.


That took a turn for the race-report-style-blog-post pretty quick, my bad. Minnesota was fresh in my mind, unlike Saguenay. I didn't post there because there is no internet in Saguenay. That was a lie, there is. Sorry.

I'm back in Seattle for an extended amount of time! About three weeks, so I'll see you cats on the flipside.

What does that even mean?

This is what happens when you search "cats on the flipside"

No comments:

Post a Comment