After Superweek and a little family visit, our next stop was Boise, Idaho for the Boise twilight criterium. Along the way we decided to stop for a couple of days in Laramie, Wyoming, for a little altitude riding. It was a nice little college town with a coffee shop on every street corner. Since I have acquired a love for the taste of coffee, I was in heaven! The town is surrounded by mountains on every side but it sure is windy. It made riding in the Dallas suburbs seem easy. After a few days at 7,500 ft, we drove to Boise where it was 5,000 ft. We stayed a couple days before the race and rode some of their surrounding mountains as well. I had never been to this part of the country so I was excited to see all the new sites. Laramie, Boise, and Bend have all become one of my favorite little towns. I highly recommend visiting sometime. The day of the race, Ashley and I did an early morning spin to the Boise State football stadium to experience the famous blue turf first hand.
The race was pretty fun, with all of downtown lining the streets. I felt pretty good the whole race, but only managed 13th after losing my positioning on the last lap. Ken Hanson from Team Type 1 took the win with his teammate getting 2nd. Once again, I was able to make some much needed money! Life on the road was getting tough. Between the 3 days I was at Superweek and the Boise twilight crit, I was able to offset my expenses, so that's always nice.
Just 3 1/2 hours away was Bend, Oregon, site of the Cascade Cycling Classic and US Nationals. This race leading into nationals was at the top of my priority list. I new I wasn't going to be a contender, but since I had never done this race before I really wanted to get the experience racing a week long stage race with the best pro teams in the country. Not to mention Rock had their entire European squad racing, which included Tour de France stage winners. My main objective throughout the race was to finish, and to minimize my losses. The first day went well, a group of 20 stayed away to the finish and I was safely in the field. Not too difficult. The next day however, I had some bad luck. With 10k to go in the stage, all of which was uphill, I got taken down from behind and broke my frame and fork. I was sitting top 15 at the time, so the entire field barreled on top of me. I stayed pretty calm and got a neutral bike from Shimano. I finished the stage 7 minutes back with Stefan Rothe, who also got tangled up in the mess. Luckily the tt was the next day so I had time to get BH to overnight me a brand new Connect. Thanks guys! After a less than stellar performance in the tt I got my bike built. It ended up being a tad heavier than the G4, but overall the Connect was way better. Stiffer, stronger and more responsive. My first ride on the new beast was the Mt. Bachelor stage. The stage was pretty flat to rolling with 2 10 mile climbs that book ended the stage. I ended up 2 minutes back from the leader, but overall I was satisfied. Next was a normal 4 corner 90 minute crit. Rock controlled the race for Oscar Sevilla and I finished around 30th. The final stage was the most important part for me since it was the exact same circuit course that was going to be used for nationals. It gave me an extra chance to race the course before the throw down just a couple of days later. Right from the start I felt horrible and tired. I just wanted to salvage something. I was so happy just to finish the stage and the entire race. The course had 2 little climbs on it, one leading in to the feed zone that was a couple kilometers long and then the next one just a couple miles later. The second climb stepped up a little bit and was much steeper. On the last lap, going into the finish, I got separated from the front group and ended up back in the second group. Again, I was 2 minutes back. I finished 71st overall, which is quite awful, but when I think about the race I am not too bummed about my performance. It was a good learning experience for me and I had never done a race that hard before. I think with a little bit more hard work and a bit better luck, and I can finish in the top 20-30.
Now I just had a 2 days before the u23 nationals road race to rest and recover.