Monday, June 2, 2008

Joe Martin Stage Race 2008 Fayetteville, Arkansas

Joe Martin Stage Race 2008 Fayetteville, Arkansas

^ Joe Martin Album ^

Joe Martins was last weekend. Me, Josh and Stan drove up to Arkansas on Wednesday where we were gonna meet Joe Long the next day at Stans time share. We stopped at CompetitiveCyclist on the way there in Little Rock. Stan purchased 2 SRM powermeters from them and was having trouble with mounting bracket. There's a padlock on the door, and upon getting approved to come in, it was a plethora of Cervelos, Pinarellos, BMC's and all their other brands hanging everywhere. We probably saw close to 300-400 bikes, and every single one was built up with SRAM Red. We got to tour the whole place. This place is retarded big. They have a whole store sized room just for clothes, accesories. The biggest mechanics workshop, demo rooms, fit rooms, offices, wheel rooms, and a massive warehouse where the bikes are stocked.
We got to Bentonville where the timeshare was (about 30miles from fayetteville) and drove up to see the whole mercy specialized team unpacking and what not. Josh busted out his bike stand and we did a little work on the bikes. Me and josh got to sleep together on the fold out couch. Josh was couldn't sleep and wanted to cuddle so he resorted to taking some benadryl the first night to put his mind at ease. We slept in, sat around, and then drove off so Stan could do his TT at Devils Den park. Josh fell in the parking lot and scraped his new campy record... dumb piece of crap. We went down to the course and immediately start climbing up the tt course. I rode with a healnet guy, and then Karl Menzies came up next to us. It was cool riding around these guys. Most all of the big American teams were there minus Toyota United. But Jelly Belly, Bissell, Healthnet, RiteAid, Colavita were all there. Stan went off and beat his time by over 2 minutes from last year so he was happy with that. He averaged 383 watts for the whole climb to come in at 10:45!

We met up with Joe that night, and had no idea of what lay ahead of us the next day. Stan had a 110 mile race, and we were gonna be getting him food at the feedzones. Only problem was, we had to get around the peleton, which meant getting around all the support vehicles, which meant getting around the ambulances, which meant getting around the first line of defense, the popo's. We were following Russ' sister Catherine. We had an agreement with the Mercy team that we'd help them in the feed zone and we'd follow their main guy there. He decided to take a 15min stop to get gas, use the restroom and buy some stuff, and then once we finally left, he got lost. Josh was driving and we took over leading and finally caught up with Catherine who was behind all the action tryin got get around everyone. We had about 45miles until the first feedzone so that gave us about 1.5hrs to try and find our way around. As it turned out, we ended up getting by with .5miles left till the feedzone. It was absolutely madness, and I loved it. When else can you ride a cops ass, drive in the wrong lane on a double yellow, and go flying by a cop at 90mph. Kudos to Josh for driving like a madman and keeping us alive. People were dropping off the peleton every mile and from what we saw, not 1 person chased back on. They were movin it! We saw some nasty nasty crashes, broken derailleurs, flats, and 5minute water bottle handoffs. Stan started cramping and got popped off but still finished the race strong. We headed back to get ready for the next day, and finally it was our turn to race.

The road race went as expected. It was pretty easy, sat in and marked some riders. Darron Savoye was there from New Orleans and as it turns out me and him were marking eachother. Some riders attacked strong at times, but cracked right at the top of the hill or down the road, so I knew if Darron went, I could go with him and we could work well together. The whole field was strong. It's kinda like if you take the strongest 5 riders at a Lambra race, and multiply them by 10. Seeing as our race was so short, the chance of getting a break to stick was kinda small. I figured i'd have a better chance of picking up a few seconds if I caught them by surprise in the last 1kilometer. I went to the front and since I don't use a computer, I wasn't sure where we were distance wise. I knew we were getting close so started looking for the 1k sign. I knew if they caught me it'd be in the last 200meters, and Joe would easily take the sprint. I never saw a 1k sign and attacked over a hill only to see another one way off in the distance. Where's the 1k?! Turns out there weren't big markers, so I had no idea if I was 1k out or 10k. Turn out the finish was over the next hill. People started sprinting and Joe was right up front waiting to launch and I hear riders going down. 1,2,3,4 I look around and keep seeing riders go. I saw bikes 6feet in the air smashing into road signs. Up ahead I saw a rider go down and was lucky enough to just clip his tire and managed to stay up. Joe had a guy grab onto his shorts, and felt the guys hand clawing all the way down to his ankle and then got hit by the guys handlebars. I have no idea how we both stayed up, but we coasted in at 48mph so the sprinters were probably above 50mph. 8 guys total went down. One broke his tibula, another broke his femur, and one guy immediately went into a seizure and slipped into a coma shortly after. Joe was pretty upset about the sprint as he was in perfect position, but I think we both realized that staying up was the best thing that happened all weekend.

We watched the cat1,2 race come in and there was a very bad crash after the finish line. 3 guys went down. The smell of the brake pads loomed in the air, carbon fiber shattered everywhere, and a spectactor fainted at the sight of the blood. 1 guys bike was in 2 pieces. Alot of crashing, but the ambulances were there quickly and worked efficiently. Josh slipped off the back in his race and formed a 3 man chase group to try and get back on. Apparently they started ramping up the place to sprint to Josh's surprise, so Josh quickly made play of them and diced them in the sprint.
We went to eat, then to the TT course. Our tt was the same as the Pro's and 1,2's. A 2.5mile climb. It was pouring, but finally let up. I got in a good warm-up and went to the startline 30seconds before my start.. Peeerfect. I heard if you could make it up in the bigring then you'd do a decent time. I kept that in mind whenever I was about to drop it in the small ring from the intense pain and agony that I was in. Little did I know, this was only the beginning of the paincave for the weekend. I managed to keep it in the big ring all the way up. I had Darron Savoye behind me so I think that gave me extra motivation to go as hard as I could. I found out later that night that I did a 10:32 and was in 6th place overall. The top 5 were all from tennessee, and arkansas and were about 5'11" and 120lbs so I was happy that I was in a good position.

My strategy for the crit was to get off the front and just absolutely fly through the corners and try to move up to 5th place overall gc. The crit course was amazing, and very hard. It was in downtown fayetteville, right through some awesome street and up so extremely steep hills. I got there a little later then I wanted, and it was FREEEEZING?! Felt liek 40 degrees, and 30mph winds. I meet up with Joe and hop on the complentary CycleOps/Saris trainer. Upon getting off I can't get air into my wheel. I was using the American Classic front, and zipp404 rear. The other AC was back at the car, and all I had was my Powertap wheel with a trainer tire. The 4's were lining up and I was running over to the SRAM support guy to get some help. Well he wasn't. He just stood there on his phone looking at me while I asked for help. Told me I couldn't use any of his equipment, and his pump didn't work. So I slapped on my Powertap wheel and headed for the start line. I tried squeezing into the front but got sent to the back behind 50other riders. The official told us to take a parade lap to see what the course was like. I treated it as a real lap and tried to move up as much as I could, but unfortunately, so did everybody else. So I started at the very back. We started off fast and upon getting to the super long descent through downtowns roads, I could see about 800meters up the road, and to my disappointment, I see the front of the peleton going through the turn at the bottom of the hill while I was just getting to teh descent. I had alot of work to do. Gaps opened up everyturn. I was in the back with Darron and we worked pretty well closing all the gaps. We eventually closed enough gaps and made our way through enough turns fast enough to get to the top 10 riders. They were absolutely flying. I didn't know at the time but there was a rider off the front. I was so blown from making my way to the front that I just sat in as much as I could. We eventually moved clear of all the other riders and were in about a 10man group. This was hands down the hardest part of the weekend. Lap after lap went by and I managed to hang on and came once the sprint up the super steep hill to the finish came I somehow managed find it inside of me to sprint. I came across 7th in the crit and waited to see if I moved up. I noted that alot of the people in the lead group were not going for anything in GC. As it turns out, we put enough time into everyone for me to move up 2 spots into 4th. That was more than enough for me and standing on the podium in the top 5 was the best feeling. It's awesome to finally have hard work pay off.

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