If you’ve been following my blogs over the years (and you should, there will be a quiz), you may recall that one of the highlights of 2011 was Jeremy Powers’ Grand Fundo ride. It’s a century/metric century ride on dirt roads, with a rest stop at an ice cream truck, and a banquet at the finish line with (among other delicacies) a whole pig on a spit.
This year, I told Jeremy I couldn’t make it. I was hoping to regain my high standing in the National Racing Calendar with good results at the Cascade Classic, and (pending invites) throw down at the Tours of Utah and Colorado to seal the deal on a good contract for 2013. In other words, I had to train and be serious. That meant almost a month staying at my friend’s house in Big Bear, California, at 7,100 feet. I went to bed at 8:30 every night and got up at five. I cooked everything I ate, barely talked to anyone for weeks, and trained my ass off, mostly on solo rides. I consumed no ice cream, and absolutely no spit-roasted pigs.
My favorite training route went down the mountain to sea level at Redlands, and then back up over Onyx Pass (8,200 feet). The guy that told me about the route said the best time he’d heard was just under seven hours. I did it in five-and-a-half. I only drove down the mountain to race crits for speed training, including the Manhattan Beach Grand Prix.
I had no teammates at Manhattan Beach, so I got to observe the criterium dynamics in a new way. Crits mostly consist of someone attacking with their teammate(s) blocking behind, taking a bad corner to let the breakaway establish. This shady tactic leads to moral outrage from other teams, who then capitulate to the same tactic in the name of parity. It’s basically a nuclear arms race in spandex.
After all that hard work, the team didn’t get invited to Utah. I don’t feel like complaining about it here, so I’ll leave that topic to rest. I did get to use my well-trained legs at Cascade, at least, where I was tantalizingly close to two stage wins, and looking good on GC until a horrible TT (something to work on this winter). I eventually finished fourth, a good result, but I hate fourth. That’s like something Frankie Andreu or Taylor Phinney would get at the Olympics.
Fourth is a bummer. Speaking of which, I’ve decided that every Olympian should get a medal. They can just get less precious as your result goes down. Fourth could be Bismuth. Then polonium, tin-foil, talc, etc. My friend Gwen finished 38th in the triathlon. She’d get grass clippings, with no ribbon. Better than nothing, but I digress.
Instead of finishing my season at Utah or Colorado as I’d expected, I ended up at the Tour of Elk Grove. With dead flat roads, sea level, lots of corners and rain delays, no race could be further from the training I had, but I figured form is form, and I was excited for the chance to throw down and make some prize money for the team. Instead, I ruined my two-year crash-free streak (my own fault, no less), tore the buckle off my Louis Garneau shoes, and DNFed early in stage 1.
Despite the road rash and bruised hip, it’s too early to take time off and start my offseason. I’ll keep riding and doing smaller races for the next couple months, and I’ll get to see most of my teammates again at the Gateway Cup in St. Louis on Labor Day Weekend. That’s right. More crits. I’ll make sure to pack the moral outrage, and I’ll try and find a pig to eat.