The Joe Martin Stage Race was a disasterous success. How can this be you ask? Well, let me explain. Day one found me getting in the decisive breakaway that seems to always form on the long climb at mile 74. After avoiding countless crashes, putting flat spots all over my rear tire, and slamming a lot of Gatorade we flew into downtown Fayetteville for a sametime group finish. A successful day.
Day 2 was the double and we had to be up at 5am. Again, I made it in the move to the finish and things were looking good for another sametime finish. 2-miles from the finishline we had one small little climb to finish it off with. A Toyota United Pro rider decide to pull a rookie move and sat up in the middle of the climb. Four guys went down in front of me thus shutting the door on me. I lightly crashed so I got up and tried to take off right away. Unfortunately, my bike would not move. Thinking the guy who rear-ended me had dislodged my rear wheel. I stopped, opened the skewer, and got going again. Nope. Something was up with the rear wheel. I got off again and realized that the rear wheel was destroyed. SRAM support showed up and I threw me a wheel. I put it on and time trialed it to the finish. All that cost me 3 minutes and all good GC hopes.
That evening was the uphill time trial. Shawn Milne from Navigators was my 30 second rabbit which was o.k. Unfortunately, my rabbit wasn't running super hard and I was pacing myself off of him and not what I was capable of putting out. I big ringed my way up to a 25th place. Not a bad result at all but I was capable of knocking another 10 to 15 seconds off of that. I wasn't even that tired on top. Well, I learned a lot about that ride and how to correctly ride it next year.
The last day is the feared crit. I had a bad start but kept myself on the group up to 10 minutes to go. Finally, everyone started cracking in front of me forcing me to jump across from one rider to the next. A crap load of intervals is what it was. After doing enough of that I became one of the cracked riders. I only cracked for a second and then got going again but it was too late. I got pulled a few laps later with a few minutes to go. Somehow I got placed in 95th went I was actually 50th. Being the first guy pulled from the chase group before the lead group comes back around places you in front of everyone in between. Oh well, that was typical of the absolutley horrible timing system they used at the race this year. The finishline system in place by Sportsbaseonline sucked. Purely sucked.
I felt strong at this race and raced it with a plan. The crash folied that plan but it was nice to recover from the cold I was racing with in Fontana. A forced recovery is what that cold gave me and maybe that is what I needed. School cracked me hard this year. Whoa, what is up with this hotel room. Yes, the wonders of a stage race that has tight start times. No room for much other than eating, sleeping, and riding. It is not as bad as it looks......and that is just my half of the room.
Speaking of which. TJ Woodruff came down and raced his first NRC stage race as a cat. 2 in the pro 1/2 field. He made it to the final day which is a damn good job. Props to TJ for finishing his first big stage race. Do you remember your first? -Ian