Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Le Tour de Mont Pleasant

I always love being able to race close to where I grew up. Not only do I get to spend the time with my family up there, but I also get to see all the great guys I've grown up with in Michigan. My dad was there supporting us at every race, my Uncles made it out to the criterium, my mom was hollering during the road race, my former junior teammate and fried JB filled up bottles was in the feed zone and took pictures, and two of my favorite Michigan crew were there in Papa Tony and Big Ray. And that is only the tip of the iceberg as there is also the deli, pasta, and ice cream shops I love up here, just ask my teammates.

The time trail was pretty straight forward. It was a short 4.1 mile course that went through the campus of Central Michigan University. The only rule was that you must start with equipment that was mass start approved, so no time trial bikes and etc. Of course just about everyone showed up with a time trial helmet as those are pretty standard in mass start races. Anyways I felt really good in the time trial, but maybe took a few of the corners a touch slow and finished of in 6th. Not as good as I wanted, but I was happy with my effort.

The following day was the criterium and it was all about not missing a move that would hold some of the stronger riders. The race was fast from the get go and never really let up. I got away with 20 or so laps to go and had one Nate Williams from Bissell chasing between me and the group solo. With a ways to go in the race and Bissell being the biggest teams in the race I decided to slow up and wait and hope we could work together to stay away. Well it didn't work and we got caught with 8 to go. Then it was field sprint that was led out by the Panther team. I was hoping I could take Brandon into the 2nd to last corner first, but there was no going around Paul Martin who was leading out Chris before that corner. Chris had a great jump out of the last corner and basically coasted to the finish as Brandon finished off on the podium in 3rd and I was 4th.

The last day was the 120mile road race. One of the longest, if not the longest road race of the year for just about everyone. That didn't deter anyone from attacking from the start. The pace was high. After 5miles however the field was stopped and warned not to cross the yellow line or they would be DQ'd. The pace quickly continued with moves rolling off and coming back. The wind was making things difficult. Even though not overly breezy it was enough as there isn't hardly anything out there to slow it down.

After a quick neutral pee break we had caught Brandon who was riding off the front solo and the counters went. It was awesome to see a few teammates up there as well ready to go and the ones countering. I took my turn and got a small group going. A few bridged up and then I went again. This time I ended up by myself. I rolled it for a while till I noticed a group of 3 in between. Just as in the crit I waited as there still was almost 90 miles of racing to go.

I took a few harder longer pulls which I think deterred the others from really pulling through. They wanted it steadier, but I really wanted to get a gap opened up. I got a bit of help from one other rider for the first few miles and the gap increased from 30sec, to a minute, and ballooned to 4 after 10 miles. We hit the feed zone 60 miles into the race with around 5minutes. From this point forward I was pretty much on my own for pulling. I'd occasionally swing off and look at the others and they would either just quickly pull through and swing off or just sit up behind. Every few minutes I tried to take a breather.

Around 80 miles into the race I had just taken one of my long pulls and looked back and noticed that we had lost two of the other riders. I asked the other rider, Derek Graham of Bissell, and he said that they just gave up, and this was with 40 miles to race. Derek told me I was a machine and that gave me a bit of more motivation to keep rolling. By this time our gap was down to 4minutes.

We rolled through the last feed zone with 30 miles to go and our gap was still around 4 minutes, but with a solid headwind to go back south into Mt Pleasant for the finish. All I could think about was Paul Sherwan's formula for catching a break, for each 10km they can bring back 1minute. I knew if I could get a few more miles in without the gap coming down to much I'd make it to the finish. I had been doing some pretty solid power the whole day, but in the last 30km it wasn't coming as easy as it was earlier.

We really didn't get much time gaps from point on. I was just hoping that if I kept the pace high enough and the power at 300+watts, that there would be no way they could close the gap. We got one last official time check at the last sprint line which was with 15km to go, which was 3:30. We knew from there we had it. I rolled across the line solo and exhausted for the win. It is weird though for that last 500 meters there was no pain, but 50 meters after the line I came back to reality and the pain set back in. My legs have never hurt that bad in a very long time.

Even though I was the one off the front for most of the race it was a big team effort. With everyone following moves earlier on it made it easier not to do to much in the first 50km of the race. It just so happened that it was me who made the move. Then the team got to sit back and enjoy the ride behind the chasers.

It was also awesome having the family there and for them to see the whole thing. I really makes the wins more enjoyable. I mean who wouldn't love this.

No official podium as there was a mass disqualification of the field with 10km remaining for crossing the yellow line apparently 10km before that. Confusing, I know, and I still don't exactly know what happened or why. But anyways Maddy and I still wanted our photo opt.

Next up is Mountain Bike Endurance Event with the Lumberjack 100. It will be my second time on my mountain bike since breaking my collar bone on it. The first time will be the pre ride the day before. I really wish I would have gotten out more, but I've been on the road so much this season. There will be some more mountain biking as the road season schedule lightens up after nationals. There should be some good stories to come.

Breeze On