Sunday, April 29, 2012

Joe Martin Stage Race, Stage 3

Boy, where to start with this post. I,m sitting here in Ft.Smith AR looking out the window at sunny sky's contemplating how Nick and I will make our way up to Fayettville for today's final stage of the race. Since we both went out of the race on stage 2 we are doing training rides instead of racing. It's a huge bummer but at least training on the roads around here softens the blow a bit.

Before I move on to stage 3 I'll have to explain what happened on stage 2. As a team we were riding well, we had guys in all the breaks and everybody else was working on the front covering anybody that tried to join them. About 20 miles into the race Dillon flatted and both Jason and I went to the back of the field to make sure he got back on. Once Dillon came around the officials car I went back fort him and pulled him backup to the field. For the first 50 miles or so we were going straight into a stiff headwind so it was tough sledding to get back on. All three of worked our way back up to the front of the field after a few miles and then I flatted. I actually hit a huge rock in the road that exploded my tire and threw my wheel off to the right. I had to unclip from my pedal and tripod it for a few moments before I could start going straight. My save earned major kudo's for not crashing and taking out half of the field but now I had to get a wheel change. The wheel truck was right there but unfortunately it was staffed by a inexperienced guy and his son. I stopped and the kid came running up with a wheel that was all ready flat and tried to put it in my bike. Then he ran back and got another wheel and had a hard time getting it past the lawyer tabs(dumb UCI rule). The end result, a 3-4 minute wheel change and the field was completely out of sight. For miles I chased because the field really wasn't going that fast and eventually I caught up to the wheel truck, ambulance, and officials car. As I reached each car I rested for a second and then jumped up to the next one. as I got behind the officials car I tried to jump up to the field and got so close, maybe 50ft, and just couldn't do it. For the next 20 mile I continued to chase about a 1/4 mile behind the field until I finally blew going up the feed zone climb.

At this point I was pretty much mentally crushed but I figured I should continue on for training. What a mistake. 20 more miles into the wind with plenty of rolling hills thrown in and I was totally shattered. To top it off there was no sign that I was actually still on course and I had been riding by myself for over and hour. Eventually I came to a spot were the course turned and saw a race worked so I continued on. I was thinking at this that I am never going to make the time cut so my race is over so I just need to make it to the next feed zone and get a ride in. The only problem with this is that when I hit the first feed zone there was nobody there but volunteers. All of the people that were helping the Mercy team had all ready left. All I could think is that there would be nobody there at the 2nd feed and I was going to arrive at the finish sometime after dark. So I'm crawling along up the 9 mile climb up to the 2nd feed when a guy with a pickup truck rolls up beside me and asks me if I need a ride. I must of looked like a ghost that was about to fall off my bike at that point so I said ok since my race was over anyway. So this guy takes me to his destination which was only on the other side of the mountain. 4 miles was all I was in the truck and I still had 25 miles to go when I got back on my bike. 4 miles.....and I felt like a new man when I got back on my bike. Mentally refreshed I rolled to the finish with another rider for company.

When I crossed the line I immediately went to the officials to let them know what happened. Apparently they felt sorry for me and did not DQ me for hitching a ride. So I could of raced stage 3 but that's just not how the game is played and I don't want anybody to discount the performance of the rest of the team because I was allowed to continue the race.

Nick also had issues on Stage 2 with dehydration and ended up with an IV in his arm by the end of the day.

So yesterday was a great day for the Mercy Team. We had guys in the breakaway all day and the break only got caught on the final run in to the finish. Then the guys got it together to position our sprinter Zach for the finish. At the line it was a photo finish and he lost by the width of a tire. Missing the win was a bummer but the time bonus moved him from 4th at 11 seconds to 2nd at 5 seconds. Today's criterium is going to be pretty interesting.

So I have to get going. Time to get packed up and head out for our training ride.

Early break in the Pro race

Pro race leader Mancebo rolling through the feed zone

Pro Race caravan

The sprint in the 1-2 race. If you blow it way up you can see Zach coming from way back.

After race carnage, the boys were tired after 90 miles in the heat and humidity.

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