Allison and I were both pretty disappointed with the results in Colorado but on the way home we talked a lot, about a lot of things. There were a bunch of, lets call them "external stressors", that were sucking up a lot of our mental energy and hurting both of our focus (or is it foci?). :) Since then we have both cranked it up, and drowned out the "noise". We have really been putting in the work the past couple weeks and turning the screws. Allison legitimately beat me up ITT last week which means she is on the gas!
This past weekend we planned a bit of a stage race to test our fitness and ability to recover. During the week our recovery is somewhat inhibited by work and life, so we don't get the opportunity often to go out and kill it and then focus almost entirely on recovery.
Saturday we hit up Palomar Mtn. with a small group (Steph & Dan, Luke, & us). Steph and Dan got a head start on the three of us. We spun up to the taco shop from the casino and then dropped the hammer. It was really hot out and I was dripping sweat almost immediately. I don't think Allison held Luke's wheel very long but I wasn't looking back. Luke pulled around me a couple of times before we got to South Grade. It was awesome having him there to push me. It seemed like any time my cadence fell a bit, or I let off the gas, he would come around and accelerate. Not long after turning onto South Grade we passed Steph and Dan. I didn't let up as we went by and they cheered us on as we sped up the climb. The rest of the climb is just a blur, I was really hot and pushing super hard. I kept wishing for the climb to end. Half a mile from the top Luke passed me, I had sat up just a tad and was feeling pretty crappy. Just after he passed me I saw the little Palomar Mtn. spring water station and the thought of dumping some water over my head overwhelmed me. I steered to the side of the road hoping to fill a bottle and dump it on my self only to discover that the spigot didn't have a handle to turn it on!!!! DAMN IT!!!! I was mentally broken after that and it took me almost 5 minutes to go the last half mile! I still put in a great time up the climb, but it would have been much nicer to stay on the gas the whole way.
Once at the top we regrouped and then headed down East Grade. Luke had a flat so the group got separated a bit on the descent. Steph, Allison and I turned around and headed back up. Steph was motoring along and Allison and I were turning a nice tempo pace. Not too far into the climb it seemed like someone opened the floodgate on the traffic. I have never seen that much traffic on East Grade before! There were tons of people going both up and down. There were a few close calls, one where a fat ass on a Harley was riding the yellow line coming at us, and a car coming up from behind us was passing at the same time really scared me and made me angry. A sports car club was putting on some kind of road rally (on open roads??) and I have never seen so many Ferraris, Lambos, Porsche GT's, Nissan GT-R's, Vipers... great cars but I would rather not be cycling as they tear up the roads. One thought did occur to me that these people pay 6 figures to have a sports car, I AM my own sports car! :) In any case we regrouped at the top before heading back down South Grade and back to the cars. I love descending South Grade. Just something about flying down that hill over 45mph and railing those corners. I passed a couple of cars on the way down and even passed a couple slower motorcycles. Descending South Grade is much nicer than East Grade, and is probably my favorite thing to do on a road bike.
After the ride we went into full on recovery mode. We did all the things we could think of to help us recover knowing full well that Sunday was going to bring a lot of pain.
Sunday morning we got up feeling really well all things considered. We headed up to Rim Nordic and signed up and started our warm up routines. I was immediately shocked at how well my legs responded after the previous day's efforts. I felt some residual fatigue, but it was fairly minimal. Lining up it was the usual fast CAT 1 guys, Matt Perry, Griffith, James, Umberto, Marco. I was relieved to not see Gary who none of us can hang with, this means that the we get to battle for first and not second! :)
Since I was very unsure of how my body was going to respond I decided to pick a spot in the pack and just sit in. On the first lap I was sitting 5th wheel or so for a while but there was a group of three that was pulling away (Griffith, Matt, and Marco). There was a ton of traffic and this made me nervous. I didn't feel like I was really pushing all that hard and had lost sight of the lead group, I put in efforts where I could and made clean passes hoping to keep the gap manageable. Near the top of the climb Marco was going backwards and I passed him putting me in third with James not far behind. When I got to the fire road Matt was in front of me. I put in an effort and passed him and kept the hammer down. I caught Griffith and was following him as we started the descent. He was having a bit of a rough time on the descent and I put a pass on him and yelled that he might do better to just follow my lines. I had a couple of really close calls at very high speed, I was really pushing hard. My tires weren't hooking up very well and I was running too low pressure. I held onto first all the way back to the fire road but then things started to go south. For the second time in a row the water guy didn't have any water for me and my power had fallen off, it was really hot out and I was starting to suffer. I didn't have anyone to work with and was fading badly. I looked back and didn't see anyone, then all of a sudden James and Griffith were breathing down my neck. James pulled around me and I grabbed onto his wheel. He looked really fresh though. At the first water crossing I swerved to avoid a big rock in the trail and took a nasty digger into the ravine. I lost a spot to Griffith and hurt my left hand when I landed in the rocks. After that I did my best to try and catch back on. I caught James, I think he took a digger as well, but then he pulled away again. I did my best to keep them both in sight but as we headed out on lap three my legs started to cramp up. Lap 3 was all about survival mode. I was fighting through cramps and trying to hold position. Somehow I held onto 3rd, Matt finished just 30 seconds or so behind in 4th.
Shortly after finishing I got the news that Allison had taken her first Pro win! It is very exciting to do so well and succeed in our little experiment. We are both looking forward to Downieville and hope to put in some solid racing.