Wednesday, July 16

Working Man's Stage Race (2/3)

Okay, that was awesome. The first stage, yesterday, was the time trial. I consider myself a sprinter and wasn't expecting to do too well, I was just aiming to do average. The field for category fives this year is thirty riders, 15th place or better was my goal.

There were guys with some sweet time trial bikes/triathlon bikes. With the disc wheels and the aero bars and the crazy frame geometry. Some guys had just clip-on aero bars. I took the Laurent Fignon approach and just rocked out on my regular road bike, aero-be-damned. After registration, I took a lap around the 6.6-mile course, to check it out one last time and to warm up my legs.

Riders were being sent out at 30-second intervals, and with great anticipation I came to the start line at 6:13. The official held my bike centered while I clipped in both feet, and another official counted down the seconds. One, GO. I took off through the first stretch, a field with a bit of a headwind. I could tell there was a wind, but it wasn't too bad. I made my way around the course, blasting through the corners, using all of the road, until I started to catch a glimpse of the guy that had gone thirty seconds before me, Curt Comber from CCB/Volkswagen.

I finally made an approach near the middle of the large hill on the course. "Nice work, man" he said, as I passed him, very huffingly, up the hill. "BLAGH!" I screamed back, my heart rate at about 190 and quite unable to carry a conversation at the moment. I crested the hill ahead of him and got in to a sweet aero tuck for the descent down the backside while I caught my breath.

At the bottom of the hill and a little ways further, there were a few police sawhorses across the road and a cop pointing to the left. Funny, I forgot there was a left here, I thought. As I turned left the cop said "no, I was telling the car to turn left!" but I had already sort of turned left. I cut the wheel right, hopped over the sidewalk, and biked across the corner of someone's front yard and back on to the course. If the guy I passed catches up because of that, I'm totally going to shit. He didn't, though.

I hammered down the road and around the next bend, and made it to the finish line. My final time was 16:33. That's an average speed of 24 miles an hour. I ended up getting fifth place in the time trial, which of course also puts me in fifth for the general classification, with two stages still left to go. Two team-mates finished ahead of me though, including the race leader Steve Bauermeister, so my primary concern is defending his lead. We'll see what happens today though, and maybe I'll be able to get in some good sprinting.

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