Friday we did a recovery ride early in the morning before packing up the van and heading to Florida for the races and training camp part 2. We spent a solid 9hrs in the van before unpacking and getting to bed around midnight.
Last night in Greenville we had a team dinner. Celebrated the hard training with two very large pizzas.
That morning we went for an easy spin in Florida. I had planned on doing my normal 1hr morning ride. Some of the others wanted to do slightly less, 40mins. So after 20mins of riding they flipped it. I continued on with Ryan and Cortlan. I tend to not to put a chamois for a bike ride that is less then 60min. So we continued on our loop and started to head back. We went out the same road that we were returning on. The three of us saw three riders with matching neon green/yellow Rudy Project helmets like ours turning off the road in a different direction. Could those be our teammates? The same ones that wanted to ride less? Did they change their minds? Looking for coffee? Or just lost? I want with the latter and they showed up a minute after us. Cortlan mentioned they said they were lucky we saw them, I said they were lucky they saw us.
So we got back, rested up, packed up and headed to downtown for the race. We left early enough get a quick small pre race meal and checked out the course. We had plenty of time to get ready, try to warm up in traffic and watch the finish of the amateur race. Nerves were high for everyone with this being everyones first race of the season. Even after doing these for years you really never know what to expect for the first one.
Guys pinning up numbers in anticipation of the first race of the year. Also enjoying the warmth.
There really isn't much to say about this race or my performance. It was super aggressive, but unfortinetly was marred more by crashes then tactics The move of the day went clear after a crash. Not to say that those weren't strong guys, as they had to be to be in that position in the first place, but it was pretty chaotic. With the short laps they were easily halfway around in not time and lapping us under 10 to go. Then the United train did there thing while everyone scrambled, followed by one more crash and then the finish. It felt like the top 10 guys were good, then there was a scrum of guys around 11th-30th place, and the everyone else behind lined out. Quite the scene.
As a team we came out of it batter and bruised. We had a guy crash early and end up with a broken hanger, shifter, pedal, and even a rear skewer. Another guy had a broken hanger and rear deralleiur after crashing twice, and a third rider crashed in the closing laps, but mostly getting away unscathed. What a experience for the foreigners for their first American Criterium. I did tell them that most of them are not quite this way, but there are a few.
So onto another great American racing experience, trying to find dinner after a night time criterium. First up was Olive Garden, but for some reason there was 1.5hr wait at nearly 10pm. Then it was on to Moes where we gimp in, bruised, dirty, and bleeding as they were closing. They were very friendly, served us, and it was a nice dinner.
After getting to bed around midnight my first really tough director gig kicked in, taking a rider to the airport at 6am. I wasn't planning on going back to bed when I returned, but I was in no position to turn down an extra hour of sleep. I got back up, had breakfast, packed the van, watched Milan San Remo thinking about how much worse it could be and then headed off to the second race of the weekend.
Pinellas Park circuit race wasn't nearly as big as the night before, but a few of the quality elite teams showed up making it a good event. Things were much calmer from a chaotic standpoint, but just as aggressive. It took half of the 100km race before a break of 12 went. I was the lucky one from the team to make it as we were covering or attacking to make every move. Even with just 3 we did a good job. After doing a lot of work, refusing to sit on, and messing around in the end I ended up 5th. On to the next one. It was enough money to buy dinner at Olive Garden for everyone after the race, this time we beat the rush.
The Irishman on our team, Anthony forgot his ID for the bar so he was unable to get a drink on St. Patricks Day. According to him it was the first time since he was 10. No luck of he Irish here, especially with being all banged up from two crashes.