This weekend was the Cuba Road race in the most amazing scenic place around. Cuba, Alabama.
Me, Dustin, Whitney and Randy left around noon. We stopped at the Times for some lunch, heard all about feeding the warrior 20 lbs, and iron sharpening iron, like the blacksmith to the forge.
We got there about 6 and made it out to the course for about 6:50 to a little recon. Fortunately we had Whitney to follow us to light the road for the last half. The directions to get to the course consisted of: Take a turn onto gravel road 1.2 miles after road 27, go 2.3 miles until you see a grey house with a red roof. Yeah this place was empty. Absolutely nothing was here. Randy was keen enough question why such a place needed a 4-lane road for traffic. We saw maybe 2 cars on our 20 mile ride. Other than that, we spotted a few wildcats, rabid dogs, and a puma. We packed up and headed back for showers and to get some dinner. We met a few other teammates and headed to Outback. Olive Garden apparently didn't know we were coming into town so they didn't have anyone working furiously to finish upon our arrival. 8 of us squished into a booth, got a very annoyed waitress (and even more annoyed when we thought she walked away and everyone started making comments like "Boy she's just a huge bundle of joy isn't she." She made us eat it when we realized the gratuity was included. Anyways, my food came out late, and got comped. Went back to the hotel to try to fix Randy's brand new Zipp 404's, which I didn't, and went to bed by about 12 (ouch). The phone for our wake up call was ringing before I knew I was asleep at 6:30. Off to the race.
The whole time we'd been in town we didn't see 1 other cyclist than our own teammates. No cars with bikes, no cyclists at the hotel, no shaved legs, nada. We show up and there's a crap ton of people so it looked like it was gonna be a good field. We suited up in the cold, registered, and slathered on some sun/screen. Liz has really been pushing me wearing it. There's a certain person she doesn't want me looking like when I get older. Everyones already to the start line and i'm still way down the road in the field getting read. I get my wheels for the wheeltruck in one hand and make my way to the road. I go to clip in and realize i've still got my bloody crocs on.. crikey?! 2 minutes to start and i'm barreling back, running as good as I can in squishy fields to put my shoes. I make it to the start line a few minutes later to a bunch of peole yelling, "Jonathan? JONATHAN?! SAY HERE?!"
The race was off and it was cold, grey and pretty boring. A rider cruised off the front, and another, and another, and another. They were just dangling off the front like they were going for a recovery ride. I guess whoever was at the front of the peleton didn't feel like getting on their wheels so we let them go. Still 84 miles to go in the race, no break is gonna stay away that long, right..? right? No one was workign well together. There were a few attempts with some Absolute Racing riders to get things going. Michael Humphreys from Absolute eventually attacked. Bryan looked over at me and said "Ya boy I got him" and chased him down, caught him at the turn and attacked up a hill. He was going like a moped. We came around a right turn and there he was taking a pee hahaha. What a dude. Eventually I started hearing guys asking "What's the payout for 4th place?" Hell no dude?! I didn't come out here to sit in for a slowass groupride while some break goes up the road for 84 miles, and have to sprint for 4th. I decided to get a break going. I half attacked up the same hill that Bryan chased down Humphreys on, and was on my own. I sat up and waited for some riders behind but it was too long, by the time they caught up to my wheel, so had the whole peleton. I wasn't too happy to have a bunch of riders willing to chase down a break so they could have the chance to sprint for 4th. The original plan was to have our riders in every break, and for me and Dustin to attack on the last lap and take the win. This wasn't lookin like it was gonna happen, and I didn't want to wait till the last lap to try to bridge to the break. I talked to an Absolute racing guy, Eric Spina, and another strong rider at the front. We decided where we were going to attack, but one of them said the only chance we had of staying away was to attack on the last lap and hope we didn't get caught. Since we didn't know how far the break was up the road I didn't want to gamble and have to chase down a possible 10 minutes gap in 25 miles on the last lap. The climb finally came at the beginning of the 3rd lap. I was riding on the front at an embarassingly slow pace with this guy Justin who I planned to break away with. I see the hill, look at the guy and say "lets go. now, now, NOW LET'S GO" and I took off. I felt like Robert DeNiro "Just tell me what you need the money for. Come on, just tell me what you need the money for.. Just tell-JUST TELL ME WHAT YOU NEED THE MONEY FOR, WHAT DO YOU NEED THE MONEY FOR" I opened up a big gap on the climb and went abloc down the descent, all out over the next climb and the same downhill for the next few rollers to make sure I would get a big gap. I eventually was on my own, with an old guy hovering back in the distance. He was riding strong earlier so I sat up for a few seconds to let me get on my wheel and then took off again. The guy tells me he's not gonna be much help to me so I just put my head down and keep going till we're out of site, and never let off the pace. We still had about 40+ miles to go. Once we were out of site we came around a corner and saw the break way up the road. Not 5 minutes at all.. Maybe a minute. We caught them and confirmed they were the break. But there were only 2 of them. They said there was an Adams bicycle rider up the road and he was really strong. They dropped off and I kept hammering away. About a mile later we saw the Adams guy zig zagging up a hill. I was pretty pumped cause once we caught him, we'd be leaders on the road and only had to finish this lap, and do one more then take the left to the 3 mile road to the finish. We caught him on the climb and I asked if he had anything left in the tank. In a disappointing tone he said "I don't have anything" He dropped off immediately and it was a time trial to the end. I went through the feed zone, got the HEED that I asked Whitney to give me. Not sure how she remembered all 14 exact bottles she was suppose to give different riders for each lap, even riders from different teams. We eventually caught Peake Riders and a Herring rider from the race ahead. Luckily the guy that was on my wheel had enough in him for a couple pulls for the hour and half we were solo, and it was glorious to take a break for a minute or 2. Eventually he said he couldnt take another pull but I was more than happy enough to finish to the end with him as he was a really strong rider and smart too. I'm sure he heard me talkign about attacking. I tried to make it know so anyone strong enough would stay close and I'd have a group of riders to work with. Back in the pack, my teammates pretty much sat up and disrupted any chase attempt. I hit a stretch of road that you could see back for what seemed liek 2 miles, and we didnt see anyone. The pain started turning into picturing what it was going to be like crossing the line. I came to the turn where you either go left for another lap, or right for the finish. After almost 2 laps out in the break, I was so pumped to finally be able to go to the finish. The guy earlier said he didn't have anything left, and I could take it. We hammered it all the way home and I sprinted away to take the win. I kissed the guns and waited for the group to come in. Roughly 7 minutes later we saw the peleton coming in for the sprint. 2 guys were at the front going back and forth up the long finishing hill. It was a toss up who would win and about 20 meters before the line Dustin came firing around the 2 and smoked the shit out of them. Dustin and Daniel got away when I was out and held a good gap for awhile, then got back in the peleton, and decimated all for the line. An excellent day for the team. We all worked well together and Bryan Bennie and Daniel were always looking out for me and Dustin. Randy had a good race at the front for the first half and is gonna be a good rider once he races a little more and sees how everything works a little better. Dustins in the lead in his Category now by a good distance, and it's only gonna get bigger. We went back to the hotel, long after checkout, all used 1 shower in about 15 minutes, got some food and beer and hit the road back to BR. Thanks to Randy, Dustin and Whitney for helping me out with everythign the whole trip. Now i'm gonna go feed the warrior 20 pounds.