Saturday, March 14, 2009

Rouge Roubaix

Last weekend, the team headed to Baton Rouge, Louisiana for Rouge Roubaix. With Nathan back in Florida with his child, Andre took over DS duties for the weekend. We drove up on Friday afternoon and pre-rode some of the course. We rode some of the final dirt road section and after seeing the decisive points, I was thinking we were going to win the race. I knew that there weren't any riders that could challenge us in the technical sections. Saturday wasn't all good though. Mid way through the dirt section, Ashley broke her bike on an uphill. That meant she would be racing on the spare bike. Not good.
Sunday morning came far too early, especially with daylight savings. After a big breakfast and a brief team meeting, the race was underway. The race for Christian and I did not start until the final 30 miles. That meant being patient. I'm usually not that good at being patient but in this case, I did alright. From the gun, Mat Stephens took off and immediately opened a gap. A few miles before the first dirt section, Bryan Fawley attacked and took several riders with him including Corey. They worked there way up to a 3 minute gap, but after the first feed zone, we had them in sight. We had 2 guys up the road and we were just sitting back and following wheels. Life was good. Going into the 2nd dirt section, we had a front group of around 25 and one major player wasn't present. We had dropped Carlos Vargas in the first dirt section and he was forced to chase. With a $100 hilltop prime in the 2nd dirt section, we sent Benji and Peter up the road. We were hoping they could stay off long enough to grab the prime and keep rolling into the final dirt section. The plan didn't work quite like that, with other people chasing hard, Christian and I took a free ride up and over the hill with Christian grabbing the money. After the second dirt section and the second feed zone, there was a small group of Christian, Peter, myself, Travis Burandt and some other guy hanging on. We had probably a minute on the chasers which included Benji. With the other 2 guys outnumbered, we were forced to rotate through to maintain a gap. After a few miles of this, we sat up and let the chase group catch us. Now it was a group of 13 which included Benji, Peter, Christian and myself. Life was still good.  
Sometime before the final dirt section, Matt Davis rolled off the front and held a gap of about 30 seconds. With the numbers in our favor, people were looking at us to chase it down. We weren't too worried about it with the decisive part of the race yet to come. Just for good measure, Peter launched off the front in pursuit of the solo rider off the front. Going into the final 4 mile dirt section, Matt had a gap of 45 seconds. With this section being by far the most technical, Christian and I took over and did work! catching and dropping Matt halfway through and putting about a minute into him by the time we were done with all the dirt roads. Now all that was left was Christian and I team time trialing the final 20ish miles to the finish for a 1-2 finish. After we were off the front, I was so worried about building a bigger gap and crossing the line hand in hand, I forgot to eat more food. With about 2k to go I lost Christian's wheel. Rookie mistake. Christian waited for a bit but eventually had to keep going so we wouldn't lose it all. I pounded some food and limped in for 2nd. Still a good minute ahead of 3rd, Matt Davis. After that is the cool part. Peter and Benji were in the chase group picking up the pieces. Fawley took the sprint for 4th, but Peter and Benji took 5th and 7th. That's 4 riders in the top 10 and 3 in the top 5. It doesn't get too much better than that. The whole team rode awesome and it was an example of team work at its best. Mat, Corey and Gonzo killed themselves at the front patrolling stuff for us all day and it paid off! We also got 13th, 15th and 19th I believe. 
For the guys, it was our first win of the year, and I am sure it will not be our last. We made this one count.

Also, in the girls race; Casey won her second straight race after winning Pace Bend a few weeks ago. Ashley had a good ride, taking 2nd on the spare bike. She such a BAMF, she has more fight than anyone I have ever met. I think the girls also got 4th and 5th. Overall, Metro VW dominated the weekend. To be honest, had we not dominated, it would have been a sub par day of racing. Huge thanks to Andre and Joe's friend Chris for the support during the race. Next up on the schedule is San Dimas and Redlands in California.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Challenge!

While we were down in Austin, I came up with the brilliant idea to challenge Peter in an eating contest. Now those who know Peter, know he plans on being obese once he is done cycling. The boy can eat. Now I eat my fair share of cereal so I thought the only way I could beat him was to challenge him to a cereal eating dual. For some reason, Peter chose Cinnamon Toast Crunch. It sounded good at the time, but we later regretted it. Next time it will be a Chinese food buffet or something else with some variety. I might also be talked into a challenge with a more bland cereal, such as Kix.
The challenge was, 1 box of cereal each in 1 hr. First to finish their box or the person with the least amount of cereal left after the hr, won.
Peter started off at a blazing speed. He was half way done within the first 20 minutes. I think the pace he started caught up to him though because I was gaining on him. It could have also been the apple and yogurt he had mid way through. He popped hard and I was able to take the victory! 1 complete box and 2400 calories later and I was crowned the champion. I was relieved to win at my own challenge, but kind of sad it totally offset the 100+ mile ride we had done earlier in the day. It was worth it though I think. Cinnamon Toast Crunch will never be eaten by me again.

I accept any serious challenges for anyone who thinks they can hang.

Back to God's country.

After Pace Bend, Benji, Christian, Gonzo and myself stayed in Austin for the week to train a little bit. Peter and Whitney were kind enough to let us crash on their couches for a few days. I think some of their room mates hated us for being "loud", but whatever. It was pretty much just Chris Collins. The week was pretty entertaining for us. It was good to be back in the town I used to call home. Man I miss it!

While we were there, I wanted to show Benji all of the girls UT had to offer. He was a little skeptical after the freshman chemistry class we sat in produced little results. We had the brilliant idea of walking down to campus to hang out for a while. Peter gave us the room number for a "chemistry in context" course. He assured us there would be dumb people in there. I immediately thought, dumb freshman blonde's... Perfect! No luck. Instead we walked around campus a bit more and tried to just look a part.

Since we were in town, and we were having a hard time finding Benji a good looking girl we decided to go hang out on 6th street for a while. We went to the Iron Cactus, where a sorority mixer was going on. It was a good time, but I think Gonzo had the most fun. He even had a dude buy him a drink. How sweet. While we were sitting outside on the balcony, a lovely young lady came up and sat next to us. She proceeded to complain about all the "bitches" in the bar and how she was "over it". In the middle of her rant, Benji interrupts her by saying, "you have a chewing gum for me?" As she is digging in her purse for gum, she looks up at Benji and says. "how foreign are you?". She deserved to be thrown off the balcony. After our night was over, we tried getting on the bus back up to campus but the friendly driver wouldn't open the door for us. So instead we walked back. From 6th street all the way to 35thish. It was quite a hike.

The stay in Austin wasn't all pleasure. It was business first. We did some pretty good rides also. One day we rode all of the fun climbs off of 360. Courtyard, Beuford, City Park and few others crammed into a 3 hr ride. Christian is faster the steeper the climb gets. The next day we rode out to Johnson City with my good friend and former team mate, Tyler Jewell. This is by far one of my favorite rides ever. Mid way through the ride, we met up with Stefan Rothe and Heath Blackgrove. Just to cap off the ride with some good tempo. We were coming back up Hamilton Pool and I notice Heath in the dog pushing about 60 rpm. He is a man child if I've ever seen one.

Sometime during the week, we decided to stay and race the first day of Lago Vista and then head home. After last year, I was a little hesitant but later convinced by the coach. I heard Kelly Benefits was supposed to be out there but later found out they were only racing the second day, so I was rather bummed I missed that. The race was pretty hard as usual. I predicted the race pretty accurately. On the 2nd lap, a small break of 10 or so formed up the road with Steve Tilford and Heath Blackgrove both in it. Since only myself, Christian and Benji started the race, we didn't want to waste much energy on scrub breaks and chasing stuff down. Since none of us were in the group I thought I would be a good one to be a part of. I was right. i jumped across to it and it immediately split down to 5. Heath, Tilford, Alex Welch, Sol Frost and myself motored away for a few laps. Eventually Sol popped off the back and Alex started sitting on to wait for a bridging Stefan. I was feeling pretty good. and was able to hold my own. I never skipped a pull but never did more work that I had to. The legs were there. With 3 to go, however, it hit me. The bonk feeling was setting in and no matter how many clif bars I pounded, I was done. Heath and Tilford dropped me on the descent back toward the finish and I was left with Welch waiting for Stefan on the second to last lap. I was able to hang with Stefan for a while but as soon as they really started chasing the leaders I was running on empty. I dropped and got caught with the main field led by Christian just off the front going into the final lap. Good day gone bad. Heath stayed away and Tilford limped in for 2nd. Even more frustrating for me was that Christian got caught and Stefan and Welch stayed off for 3rd and 4th. Benji salvaged some money for us by finishing 13th.

After the race, it was back to Dallas for another week of training before our next race, Which is where I am now. Sitting in the hotel room the night before Rouge Roubaix, just outside Baton Rouge Louisiana. We rode some of the course today and it should be a fun one. After the race tomorrow, I am going to Greenville, SC with Ashley to ride a bit and check out the town a little.

Check back for updates and results from the race.

Thanks again to all the supporters for reading.