Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Ground At The Grind

Sometimes the ups and downs of bike racing come very close to one another. This time, they came in the order that works well when trying to persuade somebody. Show the positive first, then the negative and, if done correctly, they'll understand what needs to change. Guess what? I learned what needs to change in my racing! I learned that I need to stop doing corners in the heat at elevation (a.k.a. Holt Arena criteriums).
If you are still wondering what in the world I'm talking about, here it goes...
The Gate City Grind took place last weekend in Pocatello, ID. An 87 mile road race, a 6.2 mile time trial and a 75 minute criterium.
To give you some background on this race, I have perpetually been 2nd here and typically lose the race in the criterium.
2004 - Pack finish in the road race, won the TT (in the overall lead afterwards), lost the lead due to time bonus going to the wrong person in the crit. The Utah team had way more guys and worked me over.
2005 - duplicated 2004 flawlessly
2006 - skipped to go backpacking
2007 - only difference was that I didn't win the TT, lost by four seconds.
2008... Okay, here comes the review.
The road race went WAY better than in years past. We had a crew of five, which was way better than years past! We sent Slack up the road early, eventually the field brought back his breakaway with about a lap to go. At that point, I went off the front with a few other guys. We drilled the last lap (17 miles) pretty fast and gained 56 seconds on the field. Cameron Hoffman won the sprint as was expected, but what may have been less expected, I was 2nd!
Next up, the TT, I was stoked to have a lead on the majority of the field and had every intention of uncorking a good TT. Turns out that I did just that. It was the fastest I'd ever done that course, even though they added a couple hundred meters to it! I was in the lead by 45 seconds after the TT, a margin that "SHOULD" be insurmountable. One MAJOR problem, the guy 45 seconds back was the best crit racer in the field and the Holt Arena crit hasn't treated me so nicely in the past.
The Holt Arena criterium had 11, yes 11, corners in it this year and a lap was taking around a minute twenty for each lap. 619 corners at near 100 degrees... UGH. At around 15 minutes into the race, a prime was called and 3 slipped the field. 3 of the guys that we did not want to get away, including Matt Shriver, a pro racing for Jittery Joe's and two R.A.D.D. racers including Cameron Hoffman... UGH! The entire Bob's crew hit the front and one by one detonated until I was the last resort. I left the field and had brought along Brandon Lynch from the California Giant squad. We got within 10 seconds of the break for a very short lived stint, but just couldn't quite close the entire gap. Eventually the break caught the tail end of the field and the R.A.D.D. squad (technically pros) went ballistic, bringing me all the way back. I wasn't too thrilled to know that I was getting worked over by the field rather than the break at that point. It's well documented that sometimes shiza and the fan meet at high speed, resulting in shiza everywhere. Thank you much to the Bob's crew for working your arses off to get things as close as possible. In the end, I was 3rd overall. The 2nd place streak did finally end.
Go big or get out of the way right?

Charlene came down with an old coworker and his wife to watch the criterium, surprising me before the start as she hadn't told me anything about coming down. She got to see some really good racing!

In other news-
This coming Friday, Charlene and some of my fam are going to do some backpacking, marking the beginning of the hole in my race season. After a year away from backpacking, it's time to make up for some lost time. When we get back, I'll start packing for eight days in Alaska!!!!!
Does life get any better?

Tonight, it's time for a barbecue to honor a soon to be MIA teammate. Justin Rose is headed off to medical school in Denver, CO on July 20th. The Bob's team will be missing a quick learning, motivated powerhouse that cannot be replaced anytime soon. Good luck in your future endeavors JRose.

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