Man what a weekend. Here's the good the bad and the ugly:
So we left around noon on Thursday, wife, kids and Sean Dean who's one of our Cat 3's. We were supposed to leave early but I still had to get my car aligned which really put a ton of stress on the whole situation. By the time we picked up Sean it was close to lunch so we decided to stop in Dripping Springs (just outside of Austin) and eat lunch. While we were eating the sky's just opened up and it poured rain in biblical proportions for basically the whole drive out.
After lunch we walk out and I noticed that Sean's front wheel is missing. We could see the car the whole time during lunch so it must have fallen off the wheel fork on my racks. I put it on so I now have to buy him a new front wheel. The car was so packed that we didn't have room for his spare wheels. Then about 60 miles from Ft Davis Sean's bike falls of the racks and is only saved by the rear wheel strap. His bike is OK except it bent a spoke on his wheel and he can't use it. On Friday he road my training wheels, Campy works just fine on DA! We spent the evening calling around and Seth (my teammate and fellow mt goat) had a pair of Shimano wheels (CXP 33's not exactly the nice Kyserums SL's he was supposed to use) for him to race on. OK that was the ugly.
The good and the bad are kinda mixed together. First my TT:
There was a pretty hefty head wind going out and I saw Craig Virr (ex jr national TT champion) at the start and he told me not to go out too hard because it was easy to blow. So I kept my RPM's in the 95-110 range and my HR around 150 on the way out. I caught my minute man pretty within the first 5min so I thought I was doing pretty well. On the way back with the tail wind I was flying. My computer had me at around 44min but I crossed the line at 45.57! I was in 12 place but I was pretty disappointed by my time and the fact that Jason Farrar, another one of my teammates beat me by 1.13. Again I was hoping for a top ten but I was confident I would make it up Sat afternoons RR/Hillclimb. I was a long way out of first as the cat 5 TT winner did a 41 flat, which would have put him in the top 15 in the cat 3 field.
Sat 16 mile RR/Hill climb
I felt good, I took a short nap and warmed up well. I got to start line and told myself that this was my race and nobody was going to beat me. The attacks started from the get go. I was mid pack and couldn't find a way through so I slid to the right side of the road and got to the front. This turned out to be my undoing as I punctured within the first mile. I later learned from the guys who have done this race before that the far right side of the road is full of stickers. It took me 3 minutes to get a new wheel and start rolling again. Now that was bad, here's the good. I didn't give up. I put my head down and drilled it for 1 hour straight. My ave hr for that hour 152 (zone 5a for me is 153). I didn't catch the tail end of the 5's field until the base of the climb. Over the next 6 miles I passed 27 riders and got back 30 sec on Jason. Finished stage 2 in 20th place and 18th on GC. Now if you subtract my 3 min for the wheel change I would have finished in the top 5. I think I could have podium stage 2 because just subtracting the 3 minutes doesn't take into account the energy I wasted just getting back on to the bunch. As bummed as I was about the puncture I was very happy about my mental toughness. The guy in the wheel truck walked up to me on after the stage and said that was hell of climb I put in. He said I didn't think I'd be seeing you up here so soon! Seth finished in 6th and was 6th in GC. Next year that stage is mine!
So now onto stage 3:
I wanted to stay with the leaders and make up some time. I figured I could get into the top 10 today if rode up front and stayed with Seth and the GC leader. Just before the base of the climb I got on the front to set Seth up and we hit the base of the first climb. The GC leader went with us but within the first 500meters I knew my legs were shot. My hr was in the 160's and I just didn't have it. I slid back and the majority of the field passed me. I slowed down and got my stuff together and slowly started to pick guys off. We had a huge descent right before the turn around and must have passed 5 riders on the way down which now put my into the top 15. I actually had a harder time on the way back on the rollers than I did on the longer climbs. On the final descent Drew (another teammate) and I caught a couple more guys and we paced in together. I finished stage 3 in 13th place which made me feel pretty good considering that at the start of the climb I slide back to the mid 40's.
I made up a couple of spots on GC today, jumped from 18th to 12th. If you take out the 3 min I lost on Sat I would be comfortably in the top 10. Even though the final GC doesn't reflect it I'm very happy with my performance this weekend. BTW the 35+ 4/5 field started 10 min ahead of us this morning and passed 95% of them...bodes well for next year!
This is really an incredible race. The organizers and the locals were just great. They have this race down and everything went off with out a hitch. The results were fast and accurate (maybe my TT time was off a bit ) the racing was tough and scenery was beautiful. If any of you in the South West can make it out next year I really recommend doing this one!