Wow, today I am back at work and can't believe I have been gone for 5 days. Did I even sleep???
We changed plans at the last minute and took all of Thursday off work. The original plan was to work at least a half day, but I was up wrenching on bikes 'till well after midnight on Wednesday and wanted to get some sleep instead of having to wake up mega early to drive from Santa Barbara to Monterey on Friday AM.
Thursday morning we got up and packed the truck and got rolling. We stopped in at Rock N' Road on the way out and picked up a few items. Great shop! After that we wound up caravaning most of the way with the Assistant Manager, Chuck. The traffic was horrible and it was great to drive behind him and drool on his beautiful bikes! (super sick V-10 and Roubaix Sworks). After what seemed like an eternity we arrived at Laguna Seca and just made it in time to check in. We were stoked to be there! We then proceeded to hook up with Nancy, Roger, Chuck and Mark for dinner. I ate too much! Allison and I had to drive back from Monterey to Salinas for the night so we hit the road. Our hotel in Salinas was pretty nice and I slept pretty good.
Friday we got up and ate some breakfast at the hotel before heading out. I will interrupt my story here and say that the people with trailers and support save themselves a ton of work every day by not having to cart their bikes and gear up stairs and stuff every day. I am super jealous! :) After strapping all four bikes on the back of The Max we headed over to the venue. We got a great parking spot in the paddock and then started exploring. Our plan was to check out the vendor area 'till the Pro rider's meeting and then hit up our pre-ride. That plan didn't work out in our favor. We spent too much time rolling around and enjoying all the great people and products! Our pre-ride started much later than we wanted, but it was very enjoyable as we rode with Mrs. Turner. It was great chatting and snapping pics of both of my "girls" on the ride. We finished up later than planned. After the ride we headed out to dinner with Nancy, Roger and Chuck again. It was a great time!
Saturday we decided that it would be nice to spend more time meeting people and rolling around at the venue. The Sho-Air guys welcomed us with open arms and invited us to store some of our gear at their incredible RV for race day. We were very happy to have a "Base Camp" at the venue! I did have my work cut out for me though. After getting a short workout in and riding around by the start and finish of the race course I had to prep the bikes. I set up a pit area in the parking lot by the heli-pad and went to work. With my sandwich in one hand and a wrech and rag in the other I made sure both our bikes were in perfect race condition. It takes time, but it is very much worth it to me to make sure everything is perfect for race day. I wrench for a pro racer now, no messing around!!!! Once the bikes were squared away I took Allison back to the hotel, she made our bottles and helped organize food for the day while I went through gear bags and set up number plates and stuff. I then loaded the road bikes (for warm up) and all the gear into the truck and took them back to the venue. It was tough to transport all that stuff from the parking lot to the RV, but well worth the effort so that we didn't have to stress about it on race day! Another note, I am very jealous of all the people that get special parking. Being able to park close and not lug your crap for miles has to save a bunch of energy! Sam J. helped me stow the gear, what a great guy he is!!! After taking care of the gear it was off to dinner. Allison and I hit up a great little resturant on the warf before heading back to the hotel and sacking out.
Sunday it was go time. We were both up around 5am and making breakfast. We were out of the room with the race bikes by 6am and I was ready to warm up some time shortly after 7am. I got on the trainer and instantly started sweating bullets! It was going to be a rough day! After my warmup I headed over and spun around with the boys some. Chatted with Matt and Umberto a bit and then we were off to the line. I was well positioned at the start and just tried to conserve. The pace was really fast after we hit the dirt. I made a small mistake at the start of the first single track, it is a tricky corner, but had caught back onto the tail end of the lead group well before the bottom. I knew the pace was too high to sustain in the heat but figured that everyone would fade some and that I would maybe fade less...
On the first sandy descent I got onto a really bumpy line and my only bottle ejected from the cage. I decided that I would pick up a bottle at the nuetral feed station and it would be fine. Matt and I were working together and holding a great pace. When we were coming up on the nuetral feed I emptied a gel into my mouth anticipating some much needed hydration. I was also looking for Ryan Weeger as I was told on the start line that he would be there with a bottle for me. As I rolled through feed I was looking for a full bottle, but all of them were mostly empty!!!! All I got was a few sips of water!!!!!! UN-Friggin-BELIEVABLE!!!!!!!!!! I drank what I had and latched back onto Matt's wheel. I held on until the last climb where he started to pull away. I was suffering horribly from dehydration with almost no water in the first 19 mile lap. Allison said that I rolled through the Start/Finish feed zone looking good in 5th.
The second lap things went downhill fast. The legs were giving me signs that they weren't going to last on every climb. At the bottom of the first single track climb I sat up and went into conservation mode. Very soon afterward Trevor caught me, I said that my legs were gone and let him go around. I was still very much in the race mentally and I held onto his wheel for a bit. On a short steep climb I tried to shift to my biggest cog in the back and my chain shifted into the spokes. I must have damaged my RD when I laid my bike down to avoid running over a rider that crashed in front of me!!!! DAMN IT! I lost touch with Trevor and I am pretty sure another rider slipped by while I was fixing the chain. Not long afterward it happened again and I now could no longer use my 27T cog on the 12-27 Dura Ace cassette. BUMMER! This of course complicated things with the cramping...
Not long after the nuetral-not-going-to-give-you-hydration-feed zone I got passed by James. He gave me some encouraging words like "Lets go Mann!" and then stood up and accelerated away from me as I wimpered "Go get 'em James". I was in so much pain. I tried desperately to keep James in sight and put the final nail in that coffin on the asphalt climb. I hit the asphalt knowing it is the perfect grade for my power to weight ratio... Started pedaling and my legs completely locked. Both calves, both quads, both hamstrings. Nothing was working. Reduced to a hobbled walk while writhing in pain. I still wanted to race! I wasn't going to give up. After about 30 seconds of walking I gingerly got back on and pedaled. It was very hard and my legs were constantly cramping. I just kept moving. Things got a bit better for me but not much before the end of the race. I finished (2:58) and just wanted to curl into a ball and die. My legs were cramping so bad I could hardly get off the bike, then I couldn't do much else other than lay on the ground. Every time I tried to move a different muscle would cramp.
After about 15 minutes or so of self massage, my recovery drink, and some hydration... I started to come around. I got out of my kit and put on some regular clothes, and no sooner did I do that then I shot into action. With a sandwich in one hand I went to work on wheels and tires for the team. Once all the spare wheels were set up I looked over Allison's bike one last time and then had a little pre-race chat with her. I then packed up some small tools and about 12 bottles into my Oakley backpack and headed out for the distant feed zone. On the way there I took a wrong turn and wound up adding a bunch more miles and climbing to my already long day. (Dumb Justin!)
Life in a distant feed zone sucks. There was poison oak all over the place so I was very afraid to sit anywhere in the shade. The other guys there were mostly race mechanics and all knew each other. I recognized Emily Batty's dad and struck up a conversation with him. At one point I walked up to nuetral feed to harass the guys there about giving out mostly empty bottles, they claimed someone told them not to waste water by filling them! Eventually the guys came through and we managed to totally screw up the bottles. I couldn't identify the guys in the pack and they were flying... probably somewhere around 20mph! A while later the first women came through and there was a little gap back to Allison. Her feed went well but she hadn't been hydrating, she dropped a mostly full bottle! Then it was back to waiting. Some time later (around an hour) the guys came through again and the feed got messed up again. Sid flew past John (holding Sid's bottle) and then snapped Max's bottle from my hand right before Max got there. I felt horrible, like I had screwed up majorly... but mostly I felt horrible from my race. We waited for a while and then Manny came through, but no sign of Sam. We waited for probably another hour before finding out Sam had "broken his crank" and then we started the hard climb back out.
I was dead by the time I got back to the RV, then it was time to get the gear back into the truck and pack up. SHIT! I managed to hold myself together and get the truck packed. We rolled back to the motel and I had a snack and some beer. Before I knew it we were at the Sho-Air team dinner having fun and toasting to the excellent day of racing! It was great to be in the company of such accomplished racers! Of course I was pretty spent and after a brief stop at a Karaoke bar we headed back for some sleep.
Monday we took our time, had some breakfast in Monterey before heading down "1". It was a great drive and we stopped and had a picnic lunch by the beach. What a great way to end the weekend!
My garage is a mess and we are still unpacking, but need to get ready for this weekend's race at Santa Ynez! CRAZINESS! Lots of lessons learned this weekend.
Happy Hump Day!