Monday, July 12, 2010
I recently talked to an old friend here in MI that suggested I keep up with the blog posts to at least talk about all of my experiences racing this year. I know I have at least one reader, so why not?
I've been spiraling down hill both physically and mentally lately. I had a great time racing and getting experience at the Mt Hood Cycling Classic and at Nationals, but both experiences were far from what I hoped coming off of La Vuelta de Bisbee 7th overall and then finishing the Tour of the Gila after a few issues. A crash took me right out of any GC hopes at the first stage of MT Hood and fatigue overshadowed nationals. I don't want to make too many excuses, but working full-time night shifts while trying to squeeze in as many stage races as possible hasn't been the best option for getting results. Before Redlands I worked a night shift until 7am, left AZ at 8am to drive 8 hours into California, staying up for around 30 hours before racing the prologue the next morning. Mt hood was about the same. I worked until 7am, drove to phoenix, flew to Portland, then raced a rainy prologue 4 hours later. Experience wise however, I never thought I would get a decent result in a big race let alone race these NRC stage races.
Last July I was settling into Flagstaff, AZ after finishing up college. I didn't even start racing until August and I was just fishing for results to upgrade to category 1 (the level that the pros race at). Cycling couldn't have gone better since then until about mid-season this year when fatigue from insomnia, loads of training, travel and racing caught up with me.
That's where Michigan comes in. I came back to see my family, friends and fit in a NRC criterium as the icing on the cake. It's been great relaxing with people I haven't seen from a year to six months ago. Plus a few days of training on the roads I first started riding on 3 years ago has been refreshing.
The crit in Grand Rapids was fun because my family in the area came out to watch along with my brother and parents. I felt pretty good fitness wise even after working early in the week and a bunch of intervals/intensity. Everything was in place until my second water bottle bounced out on the first lap after hitting a pothole full-force. This is a race-limiting anomaly in 90 degree weather and I was frustrated as all hell.
Regardless, I was down to one bottle and feeling good, so I jumped around the side of the field with 3 others to try and get in a breakaway. We rode around only for a lap or two and I slowed down with them because they were solely going for the primes (the intermediate sprint prizes); they had no interest in working to stay away. This was for the better as I realized I was down to half a water bottle already with about 70 minutes left in the race.
I ended up sitting in the back to middle of the small field trying to conserve energy while taking small sips from the bottle. Tail-gunning isn't always advisable in big fields, over technical courses or in strong winds, but in this case it was a matter of pedaling smoothly around all the corners. Forty minutes in, my bottle was gone and chills took over. The 90 degree, humid air hit me and dropping out of the race sounded better every lap. But I thought I could maybe sit on, cool off temperature wise and make a move at the end of the race.
Once I saw 7 to go on the lap card, I decided to ignore the chills and make a chase. There was a small breakaway gone and I figured I could get into a group to catch up with them since I will rarely sprint well against the fast-twitch guys. I attacked the field and three or four guys came with me. Unfortunately, at least one was a sprinter from a top team. He didn't want to help catch the break even his team wasn't represented up front. That would be his mistake as one of the riders from the break away stayed away by himself to take the win. I stayed on the front for that lap and then tried to ride away on the second lap again. It didn't work and another few riders went for it. We ended in a bunch sprint behind the solo winner. It was a great race and I was more excited than anything to drink a coke following the race. My bottle cages aren't the best and next time I'm going to bring a third bottle in my jersey. Checking out my average heart rate following the race, I was shocked to see the highest number I've ever seen. The race was relatively low-key in the field so I'm guessing the heat and dehydration brought this out.
Speaking of the heat, there couldn't be a better week to have people over to swim. I'm having a mellow little pool party at my house this afternoon and evening to catch up with everyone before heading home Wednesday. I'll work four more night shifts and then it's off to Bend, OR for the BMC Cascades Cycling Classic. We'll see if this relaxing has paid off.