I should probably start setting bigger goals. Or at least begin calibrating what I hope to achieve beyond what I know to be possible rather than aiming for the upper limit. People who know me know I’m a pretty big watt weenie. And that I’m decent in the time trial. I used to ride TTs blind (i.e. without a power meter) but not this year. It’s become a habit to look at the course profile, winning times from previous years, and do a whole bunch of secret FTP math with my coach to arrive at the magic number that will get me that time or at least an understanding of what is possible for me.
This has worked out pretty well and I’ve pretty much nailed the TT targets all year. 4th at Killington. 7th at Tour of Washington County (which I still declare in my mind to be 5th because it would have been in the real world, meaning a world without Nate Wilson and Josh Frick). And then this one at Tour of the Valley. My time was a few seconds slower than last year’s winner—who actually took the win again this year, besting his previous time by over 20 seconds—but it was still good enough for 4th place. The crummy part was that I missed the podium by .015 seconds. Yeah, you’re reading that right. I probably lost that time when I turned my head to wonder why some PRO rider needed to draft off me, which didn’t seem very pro to me at all. Anyway, turns out there was a 5-step podium, which I didn’t realize, and since I didn’t stick around @CXHairs made fun of me.
The road race was the next day and was a different course from previous years due to fracking or something. So instead of the long climb each lap, there was a series of 6 or so awful pitches in rapid succession. There were also bonus seconds for the one and only KOM point and since the results rounded to the nearest second, there were like five of us tied for 3rd on GC. I managed to get 3rd at the KOM point, went 1″ to the good, and hoped that the race didn’t break up.
And it didn’t largely due to one team completely controlling the race for the leader. I was thankful for that. It was actually pretty impressive and a style of racing that wasn’t terribly familiar to me as a card carrying member of the MABRA attack-to-the-death peloton. At about mile 72 of 80 the attacks started coming though. I went with everything and we actually had a decent selection of 7 or 8 guys but nobody really felt like putting any work into the move. It was a sprint, which I stayed out of, finishing safe and in 3rd overall going into the last day.
The crit. Not my favorite event. Though I’ve been known to survive them. The threat of torrential downpours didn’t help any either. I was heading to Kauai on vacation the following day and the last thing I wanted was to be sitting by the pool in pants and long sleeves so my road rash didn’t get sunburned. If it started raining I think that would have been my there-are-more-important-things-than-bike-racing moment and my wife would have rejoiced.
But it never rained and the weather was, in fact, pretty nice if you are a fan of heat and humidity (which I am not). There were attacks, of course, some more menacing than others and I went with the most menacing looking ones though the large teams made sure they never amounted to anything. It was a pretty comfortable race, so comfortable that my mind was already thinking about Kauai and I thought that I’d just surf the back to stay out of trouble. I didn’t really count on dudes not being able to stick with the front of the race in the last 200m but that’s what happened. A small gap opened on the short rise before the line and I was on the wrong side of some tired legs apparently. That error bumped me from 3rd to 6th on GC. That stung pretty bad, especially because it was such a boneheaded mistake, but in 24 hours time I forgot all about it, as terrible as that may sound.