Thursday, July 19, 2012

Places, Places!

Sorry its been a little while since I posted. My family and I were on a little vacation in an effort to relax and grow our mustaches.  But rest assured that posts will be on a slightly more regular basis (Probably...).

Frank Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan) in Liege for the start of stage 1 at the Tour de France.
 I was going to get into the whole Frank Schleck producing a positive for a diuretic. You know because if theres one thing you don't want in the Tour de France is excess fluids. Along with his stellar excuse of being poisoned. Right... I'll get into all that in a bit more detail at a later date. But today I want to talk about some more uplifting news.

I put out the bat signal to the usual suspects for an evening of romping stomping death and destruction at the Twilight Crit series down in Eugene. With all the texting my thumbs were worn down to stubs. But despite all that effort and begging I only got one taker. Thomas "The Train"  and I were it. So we hopped into the not-the-team car and headed south. With nothing but dreams and legal stimulants as our guide.

We made it down there in great time. The last few times drives down have kind of sucked because of traffic but this one was as smooth as glass.

Once we got there signed in and started to warm up two things were apparent. The head wind in the finishing straight sucks and I needed to pee.  Neither of which were really alleviated before the race. Meh... What do you do?

As we were doing our last couple warm up laps I was sprinting out of the corners to get my legs warmed up. When I felt the back end kind of wiggle on the apex of a corner. Hmmm... I started to stare at my tire worrying that my recent glue job wasn't sufficient. Everything seemed fine so I rolled up to the start line ready to go. Once the race started it became very apparent what the problem was.

My tire was slowly going flat.


Luckily I had spare wheels in the pit so I did my best to keep with the group while inching my way to the outside to facilitate the change. As I coasted up to the start/finish line I put my right hand up and told them that I had a flat.  The OBRA official asked if I had spares in the pit and I told him I did and went straight to work changing it.

I had already shifted into my 12 tooth cog before I stopped. So I unclipped, opened up my brake caliper and loosened the quick release. I popped the wheel out and stuck my spare in. Closed the levers on the quick release and the brake caliper and was ready to go.

The official told me that he would notify me when the group was coming around the corner and that is when I could start rolling out. I should mention (If you didn't know.) that in the case of a mechanical like that you get a "free" lap until 8 laps to go. So I didn't need to try and chase back on  (Ha! Like I would be able to do that.). Anyway, so I waited, and waited, and waited. It felt like an eternity before they finally came around and I was given the go ahead to get back into the race ( I guess I'm faster at wheel changes than I thought...).

Once back into the group I was feeling pretty comfortable. The speed changes weren't to challenging and even the head wind section wasn't putting me completely in the red. Although the entire night I kept trying to find a happy spot in the group where I could hide completely and still couldn't manage to find one.

As the laps clicked down both Thomas and I kept trying to get into breaks or push the pace to close them down. The speed stayed pretty high when you coupled them with the two prime laps. Next thing I knew we only had 6 laps to go.

I looked back and I guess with the gnarly head wind and the constant changes in speed the later half of the group had shattered. I would say there were maybe 12-15 riders left in the front group from 25 starters.  So I did my level best to stay out of the wind and save myself for the finish.

With one lap to go I was towards the back of our smaller group trying to see who was going to make a move a little early so I could use that as a jumping off point.

Thomas and I had talked about how the last few winners have been taking wider lines through that final corner to carry more speed. As well as jumping earlier than everyone else. I think it mostly has to do with that head wind in the finish. Once you get blasted in the face moving up a bunch of spots is pretty difficult.

As I was saying, I was watching for my train to leave the station and it happened only about two guys in front of me. I swung out and clipped right in with out to much trouble. Just as I got on I noticed Thomas looking over. I eased up to give him a space in front of me and he slotted in nicely as well.

This guy timed it perfect and as we rounded the last corner we already had a bit of a gap on everyone except two other guys.  When we were in the straight away Thomas was just in front of me. I could see the line and a guy just starting to move up on my left side. I poured on what little gas I had left. He was inching up on me and as Thomas and another guy were duking it out for the win I did my best to lunge for the line for third. But I didn't get it...

By like half a wheel.

Oh well. I was still pretty pumped. And Thomas had a very similar experience with his guy for the win. Except I think it was more like he missed it by a tire width.

But we were both happy. We raced strong and felt good. Ultimately, that's what counts.

Afterward Thomas went to go check the results but the OBRA official was having all kinds of problems with placement because of lapped riders. So hopefully all that will get straightened out. Not that points for the overall series is on either of our radars. But still, kind of the principal...

Tomorrow I'll talk about all things Tour related.

Thanks for reading!

Rubber side down,

Big E

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