Sunday, July 18, 2010

Delta, Weekend, Cascade

That's how July ends.

Delta was fast. Ben snagged the prologue win over Svein Tuft by a fraction of a second and made everyone sit up and pay attention to the reason the Kiwis call him "Quadzilla"! My own time was 10s slower, which would have been 23rd - but for my dumb-ass letting myself get flustered and missing my start time by a couple of seconds to be given a 20s penalty. Not that it was going to matter as GC wasn't my job, but still - total Cat 5 move. Next start time is getting sharpied onto my hand, my top tube, my helmet, and maybe my water bottles.

The crit averaged 30.5mph which is 3mph faster than any other race I've done, and while I wasn't physically in trouble I was simply stuck in the field. No moving. Fitness was not the issue, but skill - how to move through a field that is screaming down the straights at 32-33mph consistently and raging through tight corners. Hats off to the boys in yellow who took cash and contested all night. Not much help was I.

The road race, 140k of it, was different. We did 4 laps of a circuit in North Delta then did a longish windy transfer over to 10 laps of an 8k finishing circuit in Tsawwassen. Quinn attacked at the flag drop, and I followed the next move that bridged up to his little group and thus Rubicon had 2 men in the main move of the day, which was 10 total. Quinn sat on for the most part and I just rolled through, keeping it going and letting Quinn rest his legs for the pain that was to come later. My chain began to fall apart with 3-4 laps to go though so I had to pull over in the feed zone and go find a chain tool in the team trailer (took my chain apart with no tool - three of four corners where the pins pressed in to one link were cracked and gone), and ended up riding in alone one lap down, while Quinn did his job and broke up the break so that it would get caught and the three sprinters we had in the field could take their shot at the line. However, Zac Bell rolled out of our break and hung on to win by a couple of seconds, but we still put Ben in 5th on GC and all in all had a good day. I had awesome legs and did a good ride, which was redemption for sucking in the other two events. Motoring is what I do, and it's good to be able to put that skill to use for a specific job to help a great team do their jobs - which is to make us all look good, raise awareness for LiveSTRONG, and get kissed by the pretty ladies who think we are fast.

So now, with 19hrs stacked into the early part of this week, I'm hoping the legs come around again since Tuesday evening will mark the start of my first-ever NRC race, and what a start it is: The Cascade Cycling Classic, which pretty much looks like the most brutal race I would ever dream of starting. Cruise on over to the CCC website and take a look at that stage information - it's ugly. Only the crit shows any flat ground. Suffering is the name of the game, and when the Pro's are throwing down I'm going to be waiting for the calls of "gruppetto!" after I do my job and bring bottles to our GC guys in the 95F heat for as long as I can. I just hope this race is civil.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Life is good, life is... ridiculous

Nationals hosed my legs for a couple of days. I think the heat drained all the minerals out of my body and there was a bone-deep kind of ache going on long after the rest of me felt pretty all-right. Still I tapped out 19hrs, the most stress of which was loaded into a few solid rides built around the Thursday Nighter and then later the Firecracker Crit on the 4th.

I rolled home after the crit and parked the bike, scoured the fridge quickly for some grub, and hopped into the shower. Ten minutes later I got out and smelled a faint smoke/burnt rubber kind of smell, which was really weird, but people barbeque this time of year so I wasn't too worried. I checked that I hadn't somehow turned on the stove or that the electric kettle wasn't somehow cooked out. Nope, all good. Then, standing in my towel, I noticed a bunch of cars parked out in front of the house and so I took a little peek out the window to see what was going on. And what was going on was some serious 4th of July action: flags, smoke, firemen, chainsaws, crowds, and very nearly a cooked dog as the house across the street and one-over was literally on fire:

Yep, in the short time between me getting home and getting out of the shower, the fence next to that house had caught fire (guess is that a firework landed in the bark-o-mulch) and completely burned down while catching the house itself on fire, and the fire department showed up and cut holes into the roof which let out the more enormous plume of grey and brown smoke. They stripped the siding off one side, rescued the dog, sprayed water 60ft into the air as they hosed down the rafters, and generally put on a good show. This was far better than the evening fireworks at Alton Baker, although much scarier to think that it could have just as easily been the house next door to me, or for that matter, mine.

Tuesday I had an interview in PDX and spent the whole day up there visiting family after business was taken care of and also decided to stay and cut my teeth on my first ever trip to PIR for the Tuesday night series. The crits in Eugene are 25-30miles and 15-30 guys, this was 40 miles and 75 riders on a windy night and a twisty race track. I got there late (Portland traffic = suck) and got almost zero warmup. We rolled out slowly so I attacked the first time down the back straightaway. Rubicon's Taylor came up, then eventually Austin, Roman, and Ben C making 3 yellow riders, Austin and me. And we went 46kmph for almost the first half hour, and Taylor eventually had enough, then Ben, and Roman Austin and I kept the pace up all the way to the end. We put 3 minutes onto the field and had them in our sights on the home stretch. Awesome. I don't know if the field have ever been lapped at PIR but I think it needs to be done - that would mean gaining 4 minutes in 40 miles. We were ridiculous. I bombed the sprint but ended up 2nd due to the strange points thing - not having realized all along that we were getting points (3 deep) on the bell laps. Oops! Not like I would have wanted to be losing sprints to Roman every couple of laps anyways. It worked out. Hella fun. And made my butt super sore from going hard on no warmup.

Thursday morning I drove back up to Portland to meet up with the yellow squad and take a trip up to Vancouver, BC as a guest to race the Tour de Delta with them, part of the remnants of BC SuperWeek. We've been put up in host housing and I have had the distinct pleasure of listening to a bunch of Kiwis make fun of Canadian accents - which means I have no idea what they are saying but it sounds funny as hell.

Delta is a short 3k prologue, a crit, and a 160k windy hard road race. Sounds great, right? Right. Except that we found out this morning that the crit is in fact the Canadian National Championships. WHAT?! Well that just upped the ante - especially since Ben, our Canuck, is now completely jacked on the crit. Oh, lord. This is going to be harder than I expected, and I expected it to be hard. I had figured I could survive the crit and hopefully help the boys do some good in the RR, but since this is a sprinting type of team this crit is now the Real Deal. And I am afraid that I am going to Suck. Well, I'm strong enough to come through OK, but a National level crit is not exactly the kind of thing where I am going to do much good. So we will see. I skipped the US Natz crit on purpose, and now am entered to the Canadian Natz crit on accident. Hah, the irony of that.

Well, at least I got to wear a clean new pair of shorts and if I can do any good at all, even for one lap, it will be worth it.