Now that I'm firmly planted in reality, I feel like I can give a decent recap of the rest of the events from the NVGP. I'm sure if you've made your way to my blog, you've probably already seen the results, so here is a little background on each day of racing in Minnesota.
Thursday was supposed to be a 65 mile road race, but mother nature had other plans. The race typically breaks up pretty significantly under normal circumstances, but with tornaders brewing off in the distance, the winds were whipping around at 30-50mph all day. With the conditions like this the field was amazingly antsy. I've never seen a field of confident professionals fight for position like this. Everyone was really nervous and sketchy even during the neutral rollout because we knew that in the crosswinds the field should be blown to pieces in no time. I just kept wondering if this was what it was like in Belgium or Holland. We raced nervously and defensively for about an hour with no smaller groups really developing. Soon we heard the moto referee coming through the field yelling about tornado's and he said he had to turn around and go home.
I "bridged up" to the "lead group" of people hammering back to shelter. Rory Sutherland was driving the pace and I sat on, amazed that he was just cruising at 27 mph or so dragging us all around on our way back to town. I guess Rory's JRA pace is similar to my Time Trial pace. So THATS why he took 1:30 out of me over 6 miles...
Once back to town, the Start/ Finish area had been torn down and everyone was high-tailing it outta there. We did the same. The race refs just decided to act like the day never hap pend and we moved on to the next stage.
Friday was another criterium on narrow streets and at high speeds. Not much going on for me here. Paul took his call up and used it to go from the gun. He started a break that stayed out front until; the halfway prime, some solid face time for the team. I felt more comfortable that the first crit of the week, some of that probably had to do with not hitting a parking meter. The finale approached and the chaos commenced. I participated to a mildly lame extent and was able score myself a "Top 23", a result that I'm sure got the attention of all those pro teams.
The Menomonie Road Race was on Saturday and it was a new course with a handful of steep climbs that the promoter intended to break of the race. We didn't really race the harders climbs hard enough to cause the devastation the promoter had in mind, but the cumulative effect of all the climbing over the first 80 miles did start to wear down the field. As we approached Menomonie, after a series of decent little climbs the field finally started to break up. I was on the good side of these splits and with the front group. My legs felt decent enough and we started the decent into town and I must have hit something because I blew out my rear tire. I drifted backwards out of the group with my arm in the air.
I pulled over to wait for out team car. All of thr groups and team cars passed me as I stood with my rear wheel in my hand. When our car arrived I got it changed and started to attempt to motorpace myself out of DFL on the road. I got a solid 30 second of helf from the car and then we hit the 5x2 mile finishing circuits, where no motor pacing was allowed. Shit. I waved our driver away and set out alone to complete the last 10 miles. Needless to say I went significantly slower than the field. Being realistic with myself, I decided chasing in vain wasn't the best idea, considering the damn Chilkoot Hill was looming in the next days crit. I rolled the 10 miles at a steady but conservative pace and conceded 7:30 or so to the main field, plus another 20 second penalty because I didn't get out from behind the car soon enough once we hit the circuits. Aaaand tack on 50 bucks to USA Cycling for my infraction. Annoying day to say the least.
Prior to the day's debacle I was steadily climbing the GC into a spot in the money, but that was out the window with the most recent developments.
Sunday was the infamous Stillwater Crit with the 20% grade Chilkoot Hill and 150 ft of climbing per 1.2 mile lap, we were slated for 20 laps. Some say this wasn't as bad as Snake Alley, but I think those in that department must have had better legs than I on Sunday because I thought it was brutal compared to the Snake Alley and the Joe Martin Crit. Either way, the mission was simple: stay with the front group as many time over the hill as possible.
I felt pretty decent for the first 10 laps and was able to climb it as fast as anyone in the front group and feel like I had a bit left in the tank in case of emergency. After lap 11 I began to feel the burn. I started to go backwards each time up it and lost contact on the 13th or 14th time up. I rode a few more laps with Phil Gaimon and we caught up as we were waiting to be pulled and given a time. Phil got tired of waiting and gave the commisares the "throat slash" and pulled off to the side. I did another lap alone and was allowed to retire and still get a spot in the overall, even it it was a poor one. I watched the last few laps and waited for Rory to deal his death blow. It was as impressive as I'd imagined it would be. 53x15 or so at the base of the climb and he made the rest of the field look like the belonged in the kids race. Impressive sir.
I was glad to have completed the NVGP without too much difficulty, but definitely left myself plenty of room for improvement. Plenty. My legs still feel pretty good after a few rides this week, so hopefully I can parlee the racing up there into some good from down the road.
Off to Maderia, Hyde Park and Grandview this weekend.
I've been pondering the douschiest maneuver I saw performed by any pro during the week's racing, and it's been tough to sort through the many I catalogued. Nick Frey was at it again, but even though he hearly killled me once and wrecked his own dumb ass out off Stillwater solo, he doesn't get the D-bag Maneuver of the Week Award. That honor goes to Phil Douschejachek (Zajichek) of Fly V for blatantly shoving Alex Wiesler for no apparent reason at the least critical moment in a very boring part of the Menomonie RR. Alex was not in his way and Phil had absolutely no grounds for dousching it up so severely. Get off your high-horse Phil, you're a dousche.