I’ve been jones’n to do a stage race on the road for a few years now. Last weekend was an open weekend on the racing schedule and I was sort of looking forward to an entire weekend at home. So earlier in the week I was surfing the net and noticed on the Nebraska Cycling News website that there was a stage race in and around Omaha. So much for an entire weekend at home. So I called tPod and planted the seed. I also talked to Garrett and Nathan By The Lake about it. Everybody was all over the idea so one last hurdle remained, tPod had to get clearance from the law (aPod). tPod actually has it really good, he’s got a pretty demanding career, a wife with a demanding career and an 8 month old daughter, kPod (I happen to be her godfather). With all of this he is still able to get a pretty solid amount of training in to keep the turbo charger in top form. Once clearance was received the planning process began. The mostly reverend Kim joined us with hopes of continuing the fitness building process with some masters racing. A buddy of mine from mountain biking, Shim, lives in Omahole, he and his wife (along with their 4 kids) were kind enough to offer the five of us their basement. Team MSM headquarters.
Training leading up to the weekend consisted of the usual weights and stretching on Monday, TNWC on Tuesday and had great workout. Did 3 hours of base on Wednesday, rode to the SC on Thursday for some dirty goodness. Legs actually felt pretty good on the dirt so I pushed it a little harder than usual. Friday was an hour of easy recovery.
Friday afternoon I loaded up all of my roadie gear, swung over to tPod’s and loaded him and his gear up. Stopped at Granite City for some grub and then Java G’s for some joe and then hit the road. We got into Omahole around 8, shot the shite with Shim, and then sat in the basement and watched videos from this years Giro d’Italia for some inspiration. We finally shut the tube off at around 11 because we had a 5:30 wake up call due to the scheduled 8 o’clock start time for the road race. So I fall asleep about 2 minutes after I hit the sack and was awakened shortly thereafter by what sounded like somebody choking on a hair ball. The mostly reverend Kim was about 15 feet away from me making all kinds of noises that you would expect a geriatric to make when sleeping. This went on all night and I got a grand total of about 3 hours of sleep that night.
Got out of bed at around 5:45 and got started on cooking breakfast, pancakes, eggs and a lot of coffee. While eating we discussed what our plan as a team was going to be. We have a very strong cat 3 team, which would be great if we were racing in a field that consisted of cat 3’s only. Because entries were a little on the low side, the race director decided to combine the 3’s with the 1-2’s field. So much for our team tactics that we had previously discussed. This actually got me pretty excited, I enjoy mixing it up with the 1-2’s, makes you work a lot harder. We decided that our best approach would be to cover as many of the attacks as we could in an effort to get a man into a break. After throwin’ down some food we hit the road for the road race.
We were running a little late and got to the race venue about 20 minutes before the start. Thankfully there was only one porta-crapper, the line was about 20 long 10 minutes before the start. They decided to delay the start by about 15 minutes so that everybody in line had a chance to purge. We didn’t really need much of a warm up because it was a 66 mile long road race with a three mile neutral start.
The race started and we began our 3 mile roll out. The race was pretty tame over the first lap without much in the way of attacks. We hit the only significant climb in the race and I could tell that my legs were total crap, a good indicator that it was going to be a long weekend in the saddle. tPod rolled up next to me and told me his legs were crap also. I could tell that Garrett was feeling pretty good because he was spending a lot of time at the front keeping an eye on things. NBL was feeling so-so, so it was starting to look like Garrett might be the man for the weekend.
On lap two Clarke Priebe and I managed to gap the peloton a little, problem was, my legs still felt like crap and I figured my best tactic would be to sit in and wait for a bigger group to get away. So I backed it off, Clarke did the same shortly thereafter. A little later a Team Kaos guy got off the front with another guy, didn’t know who he was or what team he was on, so I didn’t worry too much about it. Turns out that was the break that got away. About halfway through the race tPod told me the other guy was Terry Beenken of Bianchi Grand Performance. Crap… They were the team to watch, whenever they show up they do well. With about three laps to go, Dewey Dickey of Bianchi Grand Performance attacked the remaining peloton. I got boxed in by another BGP rider and wasn’t able to cover the attack. None of our guys made that group either and a group of about 10 or so got away. There were 3 or 4 cat 3’s in the group ahead of us so we had our work cut out for us for the remainder of the weekend. We ended up finishing the road race a couple of minutes behind the second group. Garrett, myself, tPod and NBL were in the top ten in the 3’s GC.
We had about a 4 hour break until the time trial, so we took a load off and talked a little more about race strategy. There really wasn’t much more to talk about because we knew that the criterium on Sunday was going to be a race of attrition. It was a very short course, less than a kilometer and we were racing with the 1-2’s so it was going to be really fast. Our plan was simple, bury ourselves in the time trial and try to hang on to the peloton for as long as possible in the criterium because they usually start pulling racers out of criteriums once they get lapped.
Garrett and NBL were a little more prepared for the TT than tPod and myself. They had the clip on TT bars and Garrett even had a TT helmet to help him slice through the air with a little more efficiency. tPod and I were slummin’ it on our road bikes. The time trial started with the slower riders going off first at 30 second intervals. Garrett was the first of the MSM 3’s to go. I started 30 seconds after Garrett, NBL was 30 seconds after me and tPod started 30 seconds after NBL. My legs felt pretty crappy throughout the 6+/- mile TT. My HR topped out at 172 and I think my average was somewhere around 169. Garrett was the fastest of the 4 of us clocking 17:58, my time was 18:03, tPod clocked 18:04 and NBL came in at 18:58. At the end of the day, Garrett was sitting in 4th on GC, I was 5th, tPod was 6th and NBL was somewhere in the top ten.
We loaded up and headed back to Shim’s, hit the showers and then went out to score some grub. Shim and I opted for some Italian, the others went across the parking lot to some greasy Mexican joint. Mexican sounded really good, but for me, it’s not the ideal food of choice in the midst of a stage race. I really feel like my diet, with the exception of the potato chip incident, has a lot to do with the success of my season thus far. Didn’t want to rock the boat so I opted for some pasta. I did have some pretty damn good spicy sausage on top of my pasta, figured since I was being good by eating some pasta that a little sausage wouldn’t kill me. Went back to Shim’s house after dinner to watch some more inspiration on the way of cycling videos. One was about last years T-Mobile team and the other was a classic, A Sunday In Hell. A documentary about the ’76 Paris Roubaix, great video, you should watch it if you haven’t seen it.
Our start time for the Sunday criterium wasn’t until 3 so we had some time to loaf around Sunday morning. We hit a local greasy spoon for some breakfast and then headed downtown to scope out the criterium coarse. It was a pretty crazy course that had a 150 degree corner at the bottom of a downhill. The corner exited onto a one lane street. There were a couple of street drains covered in grating that was covered in hay bails that the exit of the corner that made the street even more narrow. Kind of figured there was going to be a lot of carnage on this corner. We watched some of the earlier races and surprisingly enough, nobody went down in that corner.
I had 2 main goals going into the criterium, first was to keep all of my skin intact. My second goal was to finish the race with the peloton. The race started with 40 racers and I found myself near the back of the pack. Garrett, NBL and tPod were near the front. I worked my way towards the front a few times and found myself working pretty hard to stay there so I drifted back. Probably the toughest part of the race was at the top of the hill. We made a left turn at the top of the hill straight into a head wind. This made it really hard to catch back up to the peloton if you got yourself gapped going up the hill. tPod was having a pretty lousy day, got himself frustrated and ended up dropping out.
About halfway through the race I heard somebody behind me go down in the 150 corner. Ended up being NBL, I guess he clipped a peddle going through the corner. He was OK, but had to hit the pit for a wheel change. He ended up getting pulled from the race because I think he was having some mechanical issues. A little bit later I noticed that Garrett was no longer in the peloton. We eventually lapped him and he got pulled.
I spent the entire race pretty much dangling off the back of the peloton and expended a lot of energy closing the gap to get back on. With about 20 minutes left (of a 75 minute race) I noticed that there were only about nine of us left in the peloton. As far as I could tell, there was only one other cat 3 left in the race. I had to dig pretty deep at times to hang onto to the peloton and it paid off. I finished the race with the peloton and moved up to 2nd in the GC for the cat 3’s. I ended up in 10th for the combined 1,2,3’s GC and made a little cash, saweet! No too shabby for a greasy mountain biker. Garrett ended up 4th in the 3’s GC and 12th in the combined GC. NBL finished 7th in the 3’s and 20th in the combined. tPod got a DNF because he voluntarily dropped out, a hard lesson learned because he would have been in the money if he’d have stuck it out.
So despite having mediocre legs, I had a really good weekend of racing. Also had a great time hanging with my roadie buddies and Shim. It’s always a good time hangin’ with my cycling bro’s.
So I’m nearing the end of my second build period and will start the peaking process in a couple of weeks. The last 2 weekends of racing on the road have been ideal for building my high end fitness and I’m sure that it will pay huge dividends for me when I get my racing wheels back on the dirt where they belong.
Next weekend will be the anniversary of my first win in the Psycowpath series at Ponca State Park. Was a pretty big day for me. The next race is a marathon race, 4 hours timed, hosted by Souix City Velo and the Psycowpath folks at Ponca State Park so I’ll be lookin’ for a repeat of last season. Training is going great, my fitness is the best that it’s ever been so I am expecting a great result at Ponca.
Thanks for reading,