A few weeks back the Astellas Oncology p/b ABD Cycling Team and myself heading out to Arkansas for the annual Joe Martin Stage Race. It is a very solid 4 days of racing on some really nice courses. Since we have a few Cat 2's on team we participated as a team in the Cat 1,2 race as opposed to the Pro, 1 race. This also left us more opportunities to learn to race for wins.
Dan and I drove the van from Anniston, AL following the Sunny King Criterium and Foothills Road Race. We arrived very late Sunday night and spent Monday just recovering from the race/travel and spent the day settling into the host house. Our teammate Bryan had met a fabulous host family in the past and this is who we were set up with. This time they had two houses and they let us stay in the way they fixed up on their own from the ground up. It was in a sweet location and the house it self was quite awesome. I really enjoyed the heated floors in the bathroom. You wouldn't think you needed them until you actually use them.
The towels they supplied at the end of the bed even included a piece of chocolate on top. You won't get that kind of treatment at any hotel a team pays for.
The first day was the time trial and quite frankly I knew I was capable of winning it. I set out on a pace that I had done a few years ago and it was going as planned till the last km when I just couldn't produce the power any more. I would have to settle for 3rd. We also had a couple other riders well placed.
The first time I put on the new team skin suite. I couldn't believe how long and baggy the sleeves where. It fit more like a 3/4 length baseball shirt.
The second stage was the long road race. I was 8 seconds from first place and ended up attacking 10 miles into the 110 mile race. I got in a group that most were not interested in working with me. I pushed on anyways hoping the field would lose track of us. The first 50 miles where in a huge headwind and getting time was hard. Eventually the time gap did pull out as we made the turn back into the tailwind. Then we saw the sign for Fayetteville-45miles. That put a little sting into the legs as we were almost 3hrs into race.
We ended up getting caught by a group of 10 guys 10 or so miles out and fought it out there. The only good news is the leader had not made the split and I finished 4th and moved into 2nd only 5seconds out. It was a hard way to make up 3 seconds.
The 3rd day I knew I had to relax after making the huge effort the day before. The team did such an amazing job controlling the race as a break had got away from us without any of us represented. We worked it out perfectly to catch the break inside of 10km to go and fast downhill field sprint ensued. I took off to soon as I had an opening and just went for it. I got swormed with less then 100meters to go. Oh well.
The last day was the challenging crit. With it only being 50minutes it felt like it was over before it even started. Dan had put in a hard attack and rode most of the second half of the race off the front solo. He got caught with 3 to go and tried helping lead me out. We got jumped before the last corner and I didn't get on it fast enough and finished 8th. I wasn't able to get the needed time bonus or away to make up the last few seconds.
The overall podium at Joe Martin. It wasn't the top spot, but I went out and tried to make up the lost time and the team did an amazing job to help. We will get there.
Staying with the new teammates is fun as you get to learn so much about them. Here is Adam eating his daily dinner, crackers and Nuttella. I'm not even joking. After the second day I realized he really doesn't even eat much more that then. When I brought it up I guess the guys who drove up with him also noticed that. After the 3rd stage I made him a healthy serving of pasta and meat sauce. He scarfed it down and that was good to see.
Without having great team mechanics such as Will Swan it is up to me to do all my own adjustments. This is an allen key that got snapped. Apparently I don't even know my own strength. I won't post the size of the allen key as I don't want to scare anyone.