Saturday, February 12, 2011

Down But Not Out

So it's been 4 days since my first race day and it is probably expected that I would have posted a blog about it long ago, but thanks to the "European/Mallorcean" bug that everyone seems to have gotten, I was put on the disabled list and unable to feel the motivation to write something. Sorry. Here it is though!

The race day was really good. It was a little unique because we were racing with no radios due to the implementation of the new UCI ban on race radios (very controversial and hopefully will be over-turned), but the race went on mostly as normal. The first hour was very fast. I am pretty sure we did about 55-60km in the first hour. Thankfully the roads were wide and the winds were minimal, so it was pretty easy to surf the field. I know it was difficult for the guys trying to jump into the breakaway though because it is nearly impossible to ride any faster than that, so the field just rolls you up as soon as you make the jump and loose the initial burst and settle in. Eventually though, the break went and it was time to fuel up and take good position for the first climb of the day.

Usually the first climb is not super important if there are more to follow, but this one was important because it was only about 5km long, was super twisty (I venture a guess at 20-25 switchbacks), and over the top was a short, slippery, twisty descent (nearly a mirror image of the ascent) and small valley before hitting the start of the 14km potential race determining Puigmajor. Coming into the first (Soller), I really thought I had good position, but as soon as we began climbing, I realized I might be in trouble because I was only entering one switchback as the front of the peleton was exiting the NEXT switchback; uh oh! Careful not to panic and blow all my steam, I rode a solid pace and just tried to keep the momentum rolling, picking guys off as they cracked or simply followed the wheel. By the top, I think I was 50-60 wheels back and in ok position.

Due to the technicality of the descent from the Soller and near immediate start of the Puigmajor following, there was a necessity to be in the front. Unfortunately with the technicality, comes splits in the field. Of course a split happened in front of me and at the base of the Puigmajor I was in a small chase group about 250-300 meters behind the main peleton. Deciding my only chance to get back in was early, I had to not see what my group was going to do and just go at it alone. I set into my own rhythm and was able to slowly ride back to the tail end of the peleton. I couldn't believe I made it back and how strong I felt; that gave me great confidence and I hoped that I would be able to survive the remaining 10km despite the big effort I put forth earlier. By the top, the peleton has split into a few groups and I was in the front!

A short descent and some big rollers over the top before the final descent and stretch run to the finish were what lie ahead. Thanks to my teammate Ben who attacked just before the summit and broke away with two others, I had a fairly straightforward job: follow wheels and make sure that nothing goes up the road without me or one of my teammates in it. Thankfully I had Tiago and Philip in there with me to cover things. Unfortunately though, I was not much use, as after the first descent my legs had completely locked up and when we hit the first big roller, I went straight backwards until I could get my legs functioning again. I didn't lose contact, but I did lose the front and would have to fight to get back there. By the end, I had made it back and was doing my job, while Ben was busy doing his: winning the race!

Overall it was a great day on the bike. I felt really strong and overall comfortable back in the peleton. It gave me a lot of confidence looking forward for the season. All of the excitement and confidence was derailed though when I got sick that night. Not really sure what I got/have, but it is still trying to hang on. Besides body/headaches and general lack of normal feeling (which I hate because I know my body pretty well), my stomach has been the worst symptom. I haven't had much of a problem with anything besides a real loss of appetite and a somewhat volatile stomach, which has lead to ultimate loss of all energy. I just feel empty. Hopefully I am on the mend now though and by next week I will be back to regular training without having lost too much.

Of course, I am back in Girona now and happy to be home. Lisa settled/organized the apartment very nicely while I was away and we got everything squared away with the lease now, so I think we are officially moved in! Yesterday was my first day back on the bike since Tuesday and like I said, I was completely empty. Thankfully I had Lisa along for motivation. We took our first bike ride together in Spain and it was Lisa's first time on clipless pedals and she handled it like a pro; it was awesome! Today we had a get together with some folks at Steven Cozza's place; it was very nice. The weather has been pretty good here. A little foggy in the morning, but by the afternoon, it kind of burns off and the sun will shine. The temps are 60's I think, so it is nice.

I think that is about all to report and catch up on. Thanks for reading!


chris said...

matt -

it's great to see you doing so well. keep it up, you're going to have an awesome year.


oh, by the way, my contacts at mavic have that ksyrium you gave me forever ago. apparently a new rim for that wheel is awfully hard to find.

Phil Cianciola said...

Good to see you posting again. We're out here reading.

-Hip in Tosa