So, update! I’m really sorry it has been so long!!!
I’ve been posting videos here and there on my channel to keep things updated, but this summer was kind of a whirlwind for me.
A really good chunk of racing and some great masters developments.
My first Masters race of the season was Cobb Park 35+ 1/2/3. Strava File
This course is really fun, and relatively easy. It was a somewhat damp day, but overall decent weather, and the course was pretty much dry when our race came around. If you want to watch my race analysis video check that out here.
I decided to try and catch the field off guard and attacked as soon as we started. After establishing about 10 seconds through the first two laps, I decided to stick it out and see if I could make the move stick for the whole race.
I was joined shortly after by a few other riders, and we ended up rolling the break all the way to the end of the race. Unfortunately I messed up my sprint timing and positioning pretty badly, but I was still able to come away with 2nd place. Just short of a second state championship , but still a pretty solid showing.
Because COVID had still wiped out many of the more local races this year, this was really the only Masters event that I was able to compete it before heading to nationals.
I raced all of Intelligentsia Cup in the P12 field so that I could get as much hard racing and high level experience as possible. These races were hard as fuck. Stacked fields; Legion of LA, Team Skyline, Project Echelon, Best Buddies, Adam Meyerson, Clever Martinez… you get the picture. Out of the 9 days of racing, I was able to finish a total of exactly one race. The rest were a combination of bad luck/mechanicals or getting pulled.
However, it was an amazing experience to finally be racing at that level with those racers. I learned so much and it boosted my confidence in my abilities to an entirely different level. I finished the series pretty exhausted, but optimistic for Nationals in two weeks time.
The two weeks between Intelligentsia and Nationals:
After racing full gas for almost two weeks straight, I was feeling pretty tired, but I wanted to keep the engine running hot so that I could come into Nationals with the knife as sharp as possible. I lowered my volume, but kept the intensity high, making sure to tweak things I felt needed a bit more work.
I also decided that it was a great time to travel with my wife and kids down to TN to visit my brother and his family… So we made the entire drive one morning, hung out, got some pretty poor sleep with us and the two kids in the same bed, did a short easy ride to keep the legs loose… and then ended up driving home the next night because the kids were misbehaving.
I felt like death. And needed to make the drive to Santa Fe three days after this to make it on time for both the road race and the crit.
19 Hours to New Mexico
My wife and I decided to drive down together and make a road trip/mini vacation out of the races, I was happy to have her come with and get to spend the time with her on the road as well as in between the races. Our drive was problem free, we made great time, and didn’t have a single issue.
Once we arrived, we set up home with our host and got comfortable. I did some riding just to see the scenery and damn New Mexico, you’re a good looking state.
M35+ Road Race National Championship Strava File
The first of the two big days had arrived. Although I had no delusions about performing well in this race, I wanted to do both the RR and the crit to get the most out of the trip.
The course was rough though, especially for a Midwest boy who never climbs and isn’t used to riding at altitude. A ~31 mile loop with a good chunk of climbing, and a max grade of something like 12%
And we had to do it twice.
Luckily I had borrowed a bike that was purpose built to be a lightweight climbing bike, and had a 2x up front (unlike my Allez).
I’m glad I had that bike too, because although I felt good and stayed with the group just fine until we hit the climb for the first time, once the road turned up, I was immediately spat out the back. Not just like, dangling off the group, but totally gone, one of the last riders in the race.
I was annoyed but not surprised. As I continued to climb, I figured I would catch some stragglers on the rest of the course once I made it over. I kept my foot on the gas and did indeed catch some riders on the way around the course, totaling to about a group of 5 or so riders. We rotated and worked together just to make the race easier, and finished the first lap together.
As I came through the first lap, I saw a significant chunk of our field on the side of the course. They had pulled out after one lap. “No way I drove all the way here just to quit after a lap,” I told myself, and continued on with the small groupetto. I was feeling hot and tired, but what I thought was ok. This did not last however.
We hit the climb for the second time and our small group splintered once again, and I was left climbing solo. I figured maybe we’d all group back together over the top and finish together. Suddenly as I began to climb, things slid downhill. I thought I had been fueling well, but I could feel the bonk coming. As I made it over the top I went to take a drink and settle in, but quickly realized that I was nearly out of water, with about 20 miles left in the race.
I soft pedaled and tried to keep a manageable but somewhat fast pace, but as the miles ticked up, I could feel myself getting slower and slower. When I hit the feed zone, a rider from another race in front of me managed to knock four (FOUR!) bottles out of the hands of volunteers, meaning I got none (looking back, I was so far off the back that I probably could have stopped and grabbed some, but hindsight is 20/20).
Through hardheadedness and dumb crit racing mentality, I forced myself to keep pedaling and eventually made it to the finish line. I just about collapsed on the side of the course, happy to be done and taking all of the water I could get. @brendanhousler and the other riders from the podium were nearby, and I meant to congratulate them, but literally was just focused on not dying at that moment.
Apparently it was outwardly obvious as well, because the paramedics grabbed me and shuffled me over to the ambulance. It was probably an effect of the dehydration, but I was unaware just how bad I was. They quickly hooked me up to an I.V. as well as Oxygen and a bunch of monitors all over my chest and arms. They said I was severely dehydrated and hyperventilating and actually had to coach me through breathing so that I didn’t cause myself to pass out.
After about 30 minutes in the ambulance I was back to feeling somewhat normal, and after thanking the paramedics for helping me, I made the short ride back to my car.
Doing that 2nd lap may have been the worst decision I had ever made in a race. But I was ok, and had a day in between to recover for the crit. I did still finish 19th though…
M35+ Criterium National Championship Strava File
In comparison to the road race, the crit was a cakewalk.
Super easy course with wide pavement, and sweeping turns. It was really hot, with no shade and temps in the upper 90’s, and with that, the wildfire smoke had decided to make its way over to Santa Fe as well. I felt ok though, and didn’t seem to have too hard a time while warming up.
As the race started, Mike’s Bikes was clearly the team that wanted to, and was responsible for, controlling the field. They had three riders, all top level, and so after getting my one good attempt at a breakaway shut down early on into the race, I decided to just sit in and let everyone else do the hard part.
I floated around the middle of the pack and ended up moving towards the back to tailgun for a while. Once the lap counter started getting low, I pushed forward, trying to move up where I could. Between the heat, smoke, and riders starting shed from the group, this was pretty challenging, having to jump gaps after every corner.
With one to go, I was a bit too far back, but not in a place where I couldn’t move up enough. I started to make moves but unfortunately got caught behind a nervous rider with three corners to go. Once I made it around him, I was closing gaps and moving towards the top ten. By this point though, the top 3 had already made their move and the podium was up the road. I kept up my effort, and as I cam through the last corner two riders stacked it up on the barriers. I was able to avoid them and pedal it in for a 9th place.
Not the podium I really wanted, but a top 10 in my first national level race was something I could walk away feeling content with.
I definitely learned a ton through this experience and want to write about my takeaways here as well, but I think that’s best saved for another post, as you’ve just made it through the novel above.