It has been a while since I last reported on my life. Just haven't felt like sharing I guess. Racing has been going good, I am faster than I have ever been but turns out not fast enough. My last post was about the team working for me at the Belleville IL crit. Things worked out almost perfect and I still only placed 7th. Since then I have worked my ass off trying to be ready and at top form for the Missouri State road race. I was getting a little scared a few days before the race because I had been a little sick, and my legs were feeling like shit. But I trusted my coach's recommendations and the legs came around just in time.
The day of the race also turned out better than expected. The heat broke and the weather was perfect. Also for the first time ever all 6 of the 708 Racing crew were able to race at the same race! So I had 5 guys racing for me, and I needed every single one of them! I can't thank them more for their help at the race. Keith had one of the toughest jobs of the race as he was on the front for a HUGE amount of the race chasing break aways allowing me to stay hidden from the wind. Mike and Mark we there to sit on my sides or front making sure I was always safe and had the perfect draft. Mike also picked up my water for me so that I wouldn't have to use extra energy.
The race has 3 tough climbs in it and the last one is the worst at a mile long and getting steeper at the top. The last climb is also where the KOM so guys really push the pace going up. This is where I knew the race was going to be lost for me if I lost contact with the front of the race. If you were at the front after that last climb you had a chance, otherwise you could just role in. Every climb of the day was easy for me, and that has never really happened. I have always struggled with climbing and lost a lot of races because of my inability to climb. But knowing that I also went into last year's off season working super hard on climbing and cutting weight. The only thing that I could have done better was buy a lighter bike, but I couldn't afford that.
The race went perfect up to the last climb and just like I knew it would things blew up on the last KOM of the day. Chris lead it out up the hill and I went two riders behind him, I was able to just about hold that pace till the top but I was on the edge of over doing it for the next 5 min because of that. Not only that but once we got to the top guys started to push it to drop everyone they could and I was just at the end of that group at the end of my rubber band and a couple times almost called it quits. Mark saved my day though with some kind words and even a quick push. Mark had done a lot of work though out the day and for him to be able to give me that push was huge.
Once I finally got into the head group I was able to get some good recovery and talked with Chris and Mark about what the plan for the end was. I told them that we were going to do whatever we could to get Chris or I over the line first and try to get Mark a good showing also. With about 2 miles to go the pace really picked up and I wanted back at the front of the field. Looking back now I wonder if I used too much energy at this point. With the size of the final group could I have stayed near the back and done better in the finish? I guess the only way I will know is by racing more and learning. We came down the road and we had to take a hard left hand turn that was more than ninety degrees. Right when we got there of course there is a car there and the person in the car has no idea what is going on and starts to pull out into the race. I think every one in the group was saying their prayers going around that corner. Luckily everyone made it through without a scratch but many of us had to scrub a lot of speed and waste a lot of energy getting back up to speed. I remember staying near the front or Mark took me there. Chris was on the front gunning it for the line with 1km to go. I lost Mark's wheel to a rider from Off the Front Racing and tried to bump him off my wheel but this dude knew how to ride and wasn't giving in to me. I dropped back on his wheel and we were hitting 500 meters to go. Another one hundred and we went under the rail road track bridge and hit a quick 15 foot high, maybe, rise in the road and I jumped for my sprint. That was way to soon for me to go but I knew that if I didn't go that I was going to be swamped and would never have a chance. Well I was swamped anyway. There was nothing that I could do about it. I went as hard as I could, sat down and kept hammering, stood back up and started hammering again and crossed the line in 21st, 9th in the state.
I know that I made a big improvement in my riding and was able to hang with guys that just a few months ago I would have had no chance against. But you don't ask your teammates to kill themselves for you to "make an improvement" you ask them so you win. And I didn't! I know that the rest of the year I will do everything I can to pay these guys back for what they did for me. I think that a good goal for the rest of the year for me is to go preem hunting for the team and do more lead-outs.
I go on a long string of races starting this weekend and next weekend is big for the team with Glencoe IL (IL state crit) and Webster Groves crit (Chris' goal) Those two I am going to have to dig very deep to make sure that I put my guys in to top step those two days. And I think that would be a great way to say thank you.