Sunday, March 23, 2008

Raising Cane's 3 Man TT

Raising Cane's Three Man Time Trial - Baton Rouge, LA

Yesterday we had the Raising Cane's 3 man time trial. I road with Dustin Flint and Bennie Flores. Got up about 6 to down some food.. I couldn't get myself to, but I eventually sat down in front of the tv with a big plate piled high with bread and made myself. It's 50 degrees upon waking and suppose to warm up. We get out there, register and start setting up our bikes to warm up. Phil Baker was nice enough to trust me with his Zipp 404's. I put the zipp on the front and use my powertap with a disc cover on the back. Those are a hell of a pair of wheels. So unbelievably fast. There was a pretty big turn out. About 130 people total racing. Of course it starts late and we get a start time of 10:41. I had already been warming up for about 20 minutes and we still had about 50 minutes till start. I got off and stretched to try to stay warm and then hopped back on after about 20-30 minutes. Come to find out the start time was wrong and we were starting in about 7 minutes. Not nearly enough time to warm up, we go do 1 hard effort out on the road and almost missed our start?! We roll up and were put up 3rd in line. Like Rolf Aldag says in hell on wheels, that minute up there at the start gate is the longest minute imaginable. "50 seconds" the man says... wait.... tug on the slightly too large skin suit a little. pull brakes, make sure they're straight and not rubbing the wheel, take a sip of gatorade, put gel under skinsuit.. "30seconds" jesus... so bloody long. reset my computer for the 40k painfest interval. "10 seconds" Next thing were off. I roll out first since I have the powertap under the disc cover. I make sure we don't go out too hard so end up putting aroudn 360watts for the first pull and into the turn about half a mile down the road. Immediately after the turn and about 2-3 minutes into the race we catch the first womans team that started in front of us. We eventually caught 6 teams that started in front of us. The first lap was pretty painful. The wind had picked up a good bit and the whole back stretch (90% of the course) was a headwind. I could really feel how unwarm I was. I didn't feel I was breathing hard, but my legs felt really tight. I felt like I could definately have put more power out, but my legs felt so bad. going into the 2nd lap was good for the motivation as we only had to do that 1 more time. On the turn after the start we got stuck behind another 2 teams going into it so had to slow down and pass after. Bennie was really hurting and told us he couldn't hang on anymore. We slowed up abit, let him get on the back and sit in as long as he needed. Turns out he only sat in 1 pull, and then the rest of the race was taking monster pulls, as was Dustin. We were absolutely deep, deep inside the pain cave and i've never been happier to see the curves up ahead signaling the finish. Me and Dustin floored it for the last kilometer and dropped Bennie behind, but the clocked stopped as the second man crossed the line. We go flying into the finish at almost 33mph and i pulled through next to him so we finished side by side to stop the clock sooner. Not that the milliseconds would matter but it's always a good precaution. I took some cool down and started to cramp on my inner thighs. I've never cramped there, and come to think of it, I never cramp at all. But I was definately hurtin. My position is prolly as close as I can get it on my cervelo, which is too small. So I will have to keep hurting till I can get my Orbea Ordu. We averaged around 26.5mph for a time of 48:42. I thought I saw 48:30 when I crossed the line but nothing to complain about. 26.5mph is good considering the huge headwind the whole way. I'm glad I can still feel like crap and come out with a win with Dustin and Bennie (they were riding like mopeds. fast?!)

I stretched out a little, ate some bananas and drank my recovery drink. About an hour later the results were up. Me Bennie and Dustin finished 1st in our category so we were pumped about that. I'm glad we could get a win after a disappointing Roubaix. My mom took me out to a victory sushi lunch/dinner. I've never eaten so much sushi in my life. 5 rolls, sapporo, and red bean ice cream. The waiter took our sushi list order and was like, "Oh okay so just sushi for you guys today?" I was like, uuuuh no that's just for me. Not as much sushi as Nick use to eat, but it was a good try. I'm off for a recovery ride and going to pick up liz as she just got back from Paris last night around 2am.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Rouge Roubaix

I decided a few days before Rouge Roubaix to race it this year. It's a race i've been putting off. You can't help but not to when you hear it's the hardest race in the state, if not one of the hardest in the country. The Hell of the South as it's referred to is more so related to the large amount of gravel walls you have to conquer. I joined a new team, leaving Raising Canes for Tiger Cycling Foundation.

I got to bed at a good time last night considering how mind boggling it is to try to sleep with nothing but racing on your mind. Got up at 5, but lost an hour since I had to set the clocks back, so it was really like 4. I stuffed myself with some oatmeal, bananas and coffee and Me, Mom and Cary set off to St. Francisville. Temperature in the morning was 34 degrees and was suppose to reach a high of 68, but not until 3:30, long after the race was over. I got my bike together, talked to some Canes riders, called Liz at the starting line, and set off with 150ish riders on the 106 mile race. The first hour was cold and a good just to get my bearings from not racing with a big pack since last season. Luckily it started to warm up and I could shed my gloves and arm warmers. I had 1 teammate with me so we tried to stay in the same area. This being my debut race, AND debut rouge roubaix, I wasn't sure where the important sections were mileage wise. We hit the first gravel section abruptly with little warning and people locked up their brakes left and right to go into the right turn. It was a few miles of yo-yoing back and forth. I was mid-pack and it was not a fun place to be. It was relatively flat though so no problems. About a mile out of the first gravel section i'm near the front of the pack behind my teammate Dustin. Were about 5 back and the rider in front of Dustin goes does. It looked like maybe he locked bars with someone. I saw it happening so had plenty of time to react and get around it. Unfortunately he took Dustin out with him. A break had gone up the road of about 4 riders and were not getting any closer after about 25 miles. Dustin chased back on, made his way through all the riders, and went straight to the front and buried himself for an hour to bring back the break. That guys a machine. We were coming up on a hard left, so I knew a gravel section must be coming up. It's about 72 miles into the race and i'm feeling really good.

Dustin managed to bring the break back to about 15 seconds. I was way too far back so took the corner sharp and ended up in the very front with my friend Ryan Dupree who rides for Canes. We hit the gravel and then comes the wall named the Pond Store Climb. Appropriately named this thing is steep and retarded hard. Me and Ryan absolutely put the hammer down. Were going abloc and catch the break, and spit all but one out the back. I turn around and no one else is there with us. Theres a prime at the top of the climb of a $100 bill. I didn't notice until about 10 feet and the guy in the break that me and Ryan caught snatched it. I was so bloody close I could taste the sushi it would buy me. Either way the climb wasn't over. I averaged over 400 watts for the climb and 450watts for the first 2 minutes of it. There was still alot of gravel to cover so I absolutely floored it and put some distance between me and everyone else. I go through a feed, grab a water, pour it over me and haul ass down the hill. 5 guys behind me formed (ryan and the remaining breakaway) so I sit up and wait for them so we can get a paceline working. Cary radioed ahead and got me some food and water. Radios are sweeeet?! Were keepin a good pace and taking 30second pulls. I had to explain to one guy how to do a proper paceline as he had no idea and while he was strong, he was hurting the break more than anything. I didn't know at the time but the favorite for the race was in the break with me. He was hanging off the back with his mouth hanging wide open. I told he he needs to start taking some pulls or were gonna really crank it up. Suddenly he becomes Mr. 100,000 volts. Tryin to pull a Lance Armstrong fake out eh?! We continued the pace line pulling off to the left, and as I pulled through and off, the guy that couldn't ride a paceline decides to overlap wheels on my left. When I pull over he's right there and he goes down, as well as the other 3 guys behind him (ryan, the favorite incl). Me and the other guy sit up and wait but after about 10-15min of soft pedaling its clear no ones coming back. We start hammering away and suddenly the lead van start pulling further and further away until it's completely out of site. We didn't see any signs for turning and keep going straight, only to end up at the Angola prison... dead end. unbelievable. We turn around ride back about 3 miles and see the grupetto riding through into the turn. I was pissed to say the least and hammered it up the last steep gravel climb section until I made it home to the finish. I come across the line with to a number of "dude what happened?"

It was definately hard to swallow. The break that goes over that 2nd climb first is a sure bet it's gonna make it to the finish. I was feeling so strong and without a doubt could have taken it in the last 15 miles. But I guess more importantly I got to test my fitness. I told my mom going into the race that it doesn't matter if you're one of the strongest riders, you gotta be smart, and to some degree, lucky. I didn't think I was gonna be one of the strongest being so early in the season, but I definately wasn't lucky. Word got around that the lead breakaway rider mysteriously disappeared from the course. The favorite from this year, who crashed out in the break with me, did the same thing last year.

Anyways i'm due to peak in 3 months, so i'm a long way off, but in good. I can't say having my first roubaix a win wouldn't be awesome, or that I totally wasn't looking forward to winning, but I learned a lot and got some really good training in.

Sleeeeeepy tiiiime