After the 1st 3 stages we had almost a rest day since we only had a 9.2 mile TT and that didn't start until around 7PM. After we all slept in and had breakfast the team went for an easy coffee ride with our hosts with Marijke on her bike and Alex as lead moto. The rest of the day was spent relaxing until it was time to head out to the Miller Motorsports Park. It was a very warm day, in the high 90's, but we had a nice shaded warm-up area (though none of us had trainers, so we warmed up by riding around the parking lot). The course started with an out and back around the perimeter of the race track, then finished on the track, which was a lot of fun with the constant turning. It kind of made me forget about the pain. Here are the Zteam and selected other results from the TT:
Pretty good rides for Nate & Jim. The rest of us did OK, and Daniel didn't have a TT bike, so not bad for him either.
Getting back late from the TT stage followed by the queen stage the next morning was sure to be the toughest part of this race. The queen stage started in Park City with 2 neutral laps around town, then is was off to Snowbird with a few climbs along the way. Oh, and it was about 95 degrees out, so I started with 4 bottles, 2 frozen.
The first obstacle was an unrated climb just a few miles in that was made much harder than it should have been by the attacking off the front. There was a crosswind from the right and I found myself about 120 riders back in the left hand gutter, occasionally having to go around cars that were pulled over to that side of the road to let the race go by. After the climb, we had a lot of fast descending, so it was much easier to stay with the group, and it was pretty mellow until we hit the first HC climb about 50 miles into the stage. The pack really blew up on this climb, and a group of about 35 (maybe they were 2 groups totaling 35) got off the front with Nate in there and I was in the next group of about 20, which grew to about 50 after the descent and we also had Justin and Stefano in there. The descent was long and fairly technical. It was a bit scary seeing it for the first time at race speed, but I got through it and was safely in the pack when we got to the fast gradual descents on the wide roads. Next problem was that I was running low on fluids with about 1/2 a bottle left. I was waiting for our team car to come by, but when it finally did, it was going about 50mph, so no fluids for the 3 of us for a while.
On the next climb, the small Cat3 Traverse Ridge in Draper, David Clinger charged a bit ahead of our group (I think he had some fans there). I was really dying of thirst when a fan on the side of the road gave me a Coke. That really hit the spot! I had about half of it then gave the rest to Paul Mach because it looked like he needed it. After that I was feeling pretty good and got another bottle from neutral support that was enough to get me to the base of the final HC climb to the finish at Snowbird.
As we started the climb I saw what was some guy handing out neutral water, but as I grabbed the bottle I realized it was Daniel who had dropped out on the first climb and hopped in the team car. I guess he had had enough. Too bad since I think he would have done well in the crit.
Going up the final climb, there were several fans with water, which really helped, and the temp started to cool dawn a bit too as we climbed. Justin and I traded leading our group, which disintegrated after a few miles, mostly because the guys just didn't care if they were 40th, 50th or whatever place, they just wanted to make the time cut. I was feeling better on this climb than I imagined I would considering the heat and the length of the stage, (2 of my weak points), and finished feeling really strong, crossing the line in 43rd and moving up to 63rd in GC.
With the long stages over, and only a 90 min crit remaining, we could really relax and enjoy our saturday night. For the first time all week I had a few beers (they were the 3.2% Utah variety) , and spent the evening shooting pool back at the Rossi house with Hunter, Nate & Jim.
The crit didn't start until 2PM, so Sunday was another relaxing morning and a big breakfast. Nate, Jim, Vince and I rode over to the crit course. I got a flat on the way, but we still arrived about 20 minutes before the start, so plenty of time to sign in. We were told at the start of the crit that as long as we lasted 30 minutes without falling too far back we would get a prorated time and be included in the GC results. Jim, Vince and I stayed near the back for the first 30 minutes until Jim pulled the plug & fell back. A few other riders did the same shortly thereafter, but I hung on for another 25 minutes. Being on the back though, the constant accelerations were getting to me and I finally let too big a gap open up and couldn't close it. I rode solo for another 3 laps in TT mode until the official mercifully held up the red paddle and I was pulled and awarded 99th place in the crit and 64th in GC with a total time of 13:14.25. (more than I normally train in a week)
Training week totals: 13:14.25 racing, ~ 2 hours warming up and easy riding - 15:14 weekly total.
Many thanks to Alex and Marijke Rossi who hosted us, to Hunter the DS of Zteam and to Lorachristine for all her organizing and follow car support.
Also, thanks to my wonderful wife Karin who was still here when I got home and hadn't changed the locks. This excessive bike racing is real tough on a marriage. =-)