Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Summer Time is Flying

Wow, over two weeks already since the US championships?! Time is flying in it’s typical mid-season/summer fashion and I feel a little bit like I’ve barely had a moment to stop and breathe. I sure hope I’m enjoying whatever I’m doing!!

Let me start with the race recap from US pro. It was a hard race! Not only was the weather hot and humid, but the racing was heated too. After the usual nervous/tense moments of letting the break establish itself, I was left to see how the race would play out. A championship race is always unique, especially when you’re racing by yourself. I can’t cover every move for the breakaway, but I also can’t let dangerous things go. I was a bit nervous about the breakaway that went actually, not knowing who would do work behind and seeing the quality of riders that were in it. Thankfully Freddie (the defending champion) put his team on the front to work and I was able to breathe a little. I thought then that the race would play out pretty normal with the long chase and likely smaller group after the last time up the climb. I was caught a little by surprise though when Garmin went bananas the first time up Lookout Mountain. Even with Ben King in the breakaway, I guess they had alternate plans and decided to play for those still. For the next three laps Garmin would blow it up on the hill, bring the gap down a couple minutes, but then they’d do nothing on the flats and the gap would go back up to 6 minutes. I grew a little bit anxious as the laps wore on.

As the race wore on it seemed that a couple other teams grew interested and pulled a little on the flats, which helped keep the gap a little bit more manageable. I don’t remember the exact gaps, but by the last time up Lookout Mountain, it had come down to a reasonable gap. We hit Lookout for the last time and Garmin gave it what they had left, but that didn’t take us far up the climb. After they all pulled off, there was a lull in action and the field rode a fairly easy tempo for the next couple km of the climb. As we neared the last km, Carter Jones of Optum attacked and established a small gap. Shortly after that Alex Howes of Garmin put in a decisive move that I tried to follow, but fell a little short on. I maintained a small gap to him to the top, but over the top he disappeared. I grew pretty nervous at that point not knowing what was going to happen. I wasn’t going to catch him on the descent and the long, solo chase didn’t seem feasible. There was a general regrouping after the descent and then some attacking. I followed a couple moves and eventually got a small gap. I was joined by 4 others and we worked well together to widen our gap on what was left of the peloton. More importantly though, we closed the gap to the leaders. We made contact with the front group with 1.5 laps to go. It was a new race!

It was great to be in the front group, vying for the win, but I couldn’t stop and enjoy it because I needed to figure out how I could win. I knew that doing a field sprint was not my forte, so I’d need to figure out a different way to escape alone or with only another guy or two. That feat would not be easy, and I was beaten to the punch by an attack from three others with just over a lap remaining. I knew it was a good move and wanted to be in it, but I hesitated just a second too long and missed the moment. Their gap grew dangerously big and there were only a couple of us left who would chase. It was a very frustrating moment in the race actually because there were teams with multiple racers present and also guys who were alone (but not in the front three now obviously), who refused to work. How can you win a race if you’re not in the front to try?! I’ve been in this same situation several times in this exact race, so I knew that if we didn’t close it immediately, it was over. I kept working and decided that I had one opportunity to try something now. I would keep working until we came back across the river with 5km to go. There was a good crosswind on the bridge, and if I had good legs I knew I could close the gap and hopefully drop most of the other guys by putting them in the gutter. Unfortunately I didn’t have super legs and didn’t manage to drop anyone I don’t think! I did close the gap, but I brought everyone with me, so I was a dead duck at that point. There was little chance I could recover from my effort and beat the guys who had been sitting on. There were a few late attacks and a general regrouping just before we entered the last corner at 300 meters to go. I was dead and going out the back at that point, so I had to watch as the rest sprinted for the win. I finished exhausted and obviously disappointed, but I was proud of my effort. I raced to win and maybe could have played it differently, but hindsight is 20/20. I’m going to get that jersey back one of these years!

After the race, I went back to the hotel and was able to take a very satisfying shower. Then I had to climb into the car though for the 4 hour drive home. It was made easier with Lisa as co-pilot, along with my parents and mother-in-law in tow. We were headed back to Brevard for a little recovery and family time. The ten days we had in Brevard were spent doing house projects, having fun with the family, training, and getting ready for our return to Europe. Lisa’s Mom was only in town for one day, but we tried to give her a good tour. I think the highlight might have been the bear we saw on the drive to the airport. We took the scenic route with some stops at waterfalls and viewpoints along the Blue Ridge Parkway and by some stroke of luck we happened to be driving at just the right spot on the Parkway as a bear ran across the road. It was pretty neat to see. The next few days while my parents were in town we just tried to relax and show them a bit of why we like Brevard. Lisa and Mom made a trip to Asheville to take care of a couple errands and did some bike riding and hiking, while I rode with my Dad a bit, had his help to build the top for our dining room table. It was a nice time and helped us get recovered.

My parents left Brevard and Lisa and I tackled other tasks and tried to have a little fun ourselves. The time went too quickly and we were on board a plane back to Europe before we knew it. We arrived in Girona last Friday and have been gung-ho since returning. Were still in search of a new apartment and already had an appointment scheduled on Friday afternoon. After the apartment viewing we went to a bbq at Brent and Jamie’s. It was a lot to bite off on our first day in Europe, but it was a good cure to jetlag. All told in the first days in Girona, we saw 5 or 6 apartments, built one bike, did our respective training, attended a bbq, got our own apartment in order, and dare I jinx us, maybe have found a new apartment for ourselves!! Nothing is certain yet, but it would be a huge accomplishment and exciting moment for us. We’ve been in the market for a new apartment for a couple years but could never find the right one. Wish us luck! In case all this wasn’t enough running around, we actually found time to take a trip to the beach too! It was a beautifully sunny day, with almost no breeze. We got a pizza to go and went for a nice little picnic on the beach. We even took a cool dip in the Mediterranean. It was quite chilly still, but it was very refreshing.

We had a cappuccino while we waited for our pizza :)
A picnic on the beach doesn't get much better!
So that all brings us to today I think. I flew to Switzerland for my next races, GP Gippingen and Tour de Swiss. Gippingen is a one-day race tomorrow and Swiss starts on Saturday. I don’t know anything about tomorrow’s race, but I’ve heard it is quite challenging, always up and down. I’m looking forward to giving it a nudge. And Swiss will obviously be a tough race, but I needn’t worry about that until Saturday! I believe that’s about all I have. Thanks for coming back and reading my short novel here. Check back in for race updates for the next 10 days. Auf Wiedersehen!


Scott K said...

Wow, did you rest at all? I am tired just reading about it. Good luck on your next couple races. Time to shake loose and jump on the podium - yes?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the recap of nationals. Good that you went for the win, best of luck in Suisse. You're ready! Suerte!

Mike M said...

Great read on the nationals. I wondered how you would get back on when such a big group got away early. You played your cards well and it was awesome to see you battle to give yourself a chance. Chapeau!