Monday, August 1, 2016

Back in Action in Utah

Hello all, despite what you may think, I am still alive, and I do still race my bike! Life has been busy on the home front with training and being dad, but I'm out in Utah now racing my bike again. Today was the first stage and it came down to the expected field sprint. Our day started bright and early, departing the hotel at 5:45 to be exact, to take the drive to what is probably the most unique start I've ever done. Incredibly the race organizers were able to get us a start in Zion National Park, so we had a picturesque 20km neutral roll through the amazing rock formations and colors of Zion before getting the race truly underway. Once the flag dropped, the attacks were on and it felt good to be back in the thick of it. Our team's goal was to get Jaramillo in the break to go for the KOM jersey: mission accomplished. He took both KOM sprints and now holds the jersey. Likely he will try again tomorrow to extend his lead.

As for the rest of us, we were able to sit back and "relax" as the peloton ripped across Utah's unique landscape. Literally though, we ripped. First it was Rally pulling like gangbusters for their sprinter, followed by a combo of BMC and Cannondale. There were a lot of guys under pressure and a good number dropped, including the pure sprinters, which left us in a better position to have Marco sprint. When the dust settled though, Tanner actually did the best for us coming in 10th. It was a bit of a chaotic sprint because no team was really in control, so there were a lot of teams trying to get their guy into position without real trains. The finish was also really fast with the last ~1.3km being slightly downhill. I was happy to avoid any trouble.

Wait, what did I say? I finished the stage in one piece but then I had a mix up with a drainage gutter. Several factors went into this but first of all is that the gutters here are really deep to be able to handle the flash flooding they get. Second factor was that despite it being bone dry out, there was a small river pouring down this gutter. Usually neither of those would likely be factors for me rolling through the stream of water, but the unusual factor was the red clay dirt/mud that was infusing the small river. Well I found out the hard way that this mud makes the pavement underneath like ice, so boom goes Matthew. I think the biggest bruise is to my ego because of course it was a spectacle and then I was laying there under a deluge of muddy water as I tried to process what had just happened. I quickly remounted and rode on my way back to the hotel. Further inspection of my accident revealed two decent scrapes on my knee and some soreness in the same knee from whatever impact I took. Thankfully I think the water actually probably softened the blow a little bit. Nonetheless I certainly could have done without the physical and probably bigger psychological blow of the "muddy water" incident. I'll survive though and don't think it will have any effect on my race.

So onto stage 2! We will traverse two quite challenging climbs that we've done before in the race that typically leave the field parred down a good bit for the sprint. This year however, the finish is much further from the climbs, so I would suspect they'll play a little less in the race. Some people will likely struggle though, which could leave a similar group to today's finish. The race shall tell us!

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good luck tomorrow. Glad you're not too banged up! Thanks for the post.

Anonymous said...

Great to see you are back in action. Keep those daily updates coming.

Brad Campbell said...

Isn't Zion amazing? One of my favorite National Parks. So glad you got to experience it. I'm sure the riding out there is incredible. Best of luck for the rest of the tour! Brad

smith101 said...

the rest of the tour! Brad...

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Anonymous said...

Wish you much pleasure in your tour experience in national parks are light. Thanks for sharing!
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