April 30, 2013 (Rosewell, Georgia) – I find it wild how difficult it is for me to write these reports while away at Speedweek. I look at my day and think that I can fit in the time to write it all down no problem…but it always seems to never get done. It isn’t lack of time that is holding me back, it is the lack of mental capacity. This style of racing messes you up. The physical intensity is one thing, but it’s the mental intensity that exhausts me. Being “on” and aware for 90-mins straight is draining.
Riding on the edge so closely to 60-80 others guys doing 50km an hour through the corners takes a ton of focus. Knowing the cracks in the road, the potholes, storm sewers and where the barriers jet out and remembering and steering clear of them lap after lap is the difference between staying upright or visiting the first aid tent. There a crashes every race. Sometimes 2-3 and almost always in the last few to go when people are taking chances to advance their final position. There are a few secrets to staying clear of this stuff but you can’t avoid them all.
Being aware and never losing focus is a skill, but it also very draining. When the race ends I can barely think. I have a hard time making decisions. Even choosing a restaurant to eat at can be a struggle. The idea of coming back to the hotel room and writing a report is almost laughable. Sometimes I’m laughing and sometimes I’m crying. I feel like my 9-year-old son at bedtime. Laughing at nothing because he is so tired and then irritable and angry when I tell him he has to go to bed. Our comparable mental states can only be the result of complete exhaustion.
The funny part about this is that he passes out in less than five minutes. But for me it is almost impossible to get to sleep while in this state. You are so tired and can’t form a complete thought but you also can’t wind down enough to actually fall asleep. Critsomnia is a term some throw around and it fits. Critsomnia is what keeps me from these reports. My mind is still going, my body is radiating heat and I toss and turn most of the night. Waking up before 10am is a struggle because you just don’t feel rested. I found time today because we had a rest day yesterday and then had a good sleep after six hours of sitting in the car. I got out this morning at 10:30am for a little spin with the boys and now it is time to work. I have time because tonight’s race doesn’t start until 7:30pm and with the day off my mind is “kinda” back to normal
I will do my best to keep this brief. The Athens Twilight is the biggest and best race I have ever attended. The crowd is what makes it what it is. There are 20 to 30,000 people there in attendance and they are full of life and beer! This was one of the best races of my life as I was having aggressive thoughts and acting on them. I went for a few primes (and lost) and I also got 2nd in a sprint for points. I attacked off the front and was in three breakaway attempts. This is new as in past years I was holding on for dear life. I road my heart out and battled in the top 5-10 the entire race until two to go.
I felt so strong and I really was thinking I could win the pack sprint for 4th as three were up the road. A big hit on the start/finish straightaway popped one of my tires. Inside 5-to-go, and no free laps. I really wanted to finish so I decided to ride it out. I found out right away it was a front flat and not a rear flat coming out of corner one. The carbon rim went to the pavement and I went to the ground. Race over and I was now going home with some new road rash in all the same old places. Good news is that I walked away and the bike was undamaged. Bad news is my chance at a top 5 was taken away. The best Speedweek race of my life got me 58th place out of 80 or so riders. I had a good cry in the arms of my girlfriend and decided to be happy to walk away and live to race another day.
Historic Roswell was the next event of the series. I knew I was going to take out my frustrations from Athens out at this race. When the day started with pouring rain I felt that it was going to be a great day. My teammates weren’t as happy to see the down pour but I knew it was going to be a shit show and the kinda shit show I enjoy. I have worked on my cornering for quite a long time now. I work on it with my clients in parking lots all the time and I get countless hours of explaining how to corner and then demonstrating the move. When it rains these skills can make all the difference.
It was like another 100 watts of power out of the corners because I could carry speed. I got off the front right away and scooped up as many primes as I could. I had a few guys try to break away with me but they just couldn’t hold my wheel in the corners. I would slow, trade a few pulls, and then I would lead and have 100 feet on them out of the turn. I took the first points sprint as well. The only thing that messed up my riding away from the field was “the blue train”. The United Health Care team lined up all of their guys on the front and kept everything in check. It is quite impressive to be honest. They roll in a single file line and hold the pack at 45km an hour the entire time.
Even if I attacked and got a huge gap it wasn’t long before they would hunt me down. One vs six will never work no matter how fast you can corner. These guys don’t mess around. I just kept jumping them and getting up the road for the money. Hold pace and wait till they came by again. I got into the 7-8th position and fought to hold on. I did get a little tired and lost a few spots. This was a mistake. My heart rate went down but now I was 30 back and on the brakes way more than when I was top 10. After the blue train the field took up the entire road.
They slowed into the wet corners and then sprinted out like crazy. When I was leading I could take the corner so much faster and didn’t have to torque it out of each and every turn. This was starting to hurt and I need to move up. Inside 7-to-go I worked hard in all the wrong spots to advance. With 4-to-go I was top 20 again but the UHC team was now drilling it. Advancing on the straights was impossible and it made the corners even more scary as everyone was now locking things up.
I was too far back. I fought and fought to hold my spot and it was pretty much all I could do. On the last lap I gave the final incline everything I had and made up 4-5 spots. I was redlined and now in the top 15. Second last corner I blew it and two riders went inside on me. After all the great corners all race I had messed this one up bad. I hit the last corner full gas and passed them back + 1 more to scream across the line 14th. My best Speedweek result ever! No crashes and about $500 in primes to take home!
With double point sprints and the 5 laps led I ended up 9th in points for the day. I redeemed my flat at Athens. I think the thing to take away is that I have come a long way in one year. Last year I felt I belonged but was in no danger of winning.After these two races I really feel I could snag one of these on this trip.
Yesterday I felt on top of the world and could ride away with ease until the UHC guys did there 5-to-go lead out. I’m better prepared for it this time and really hope to be in a better position on those last few laps. I have worked way too hard this off-season on my sprinting to not show it off a bit.
The entire team would like to thank everyone following us back home. The response has been incredible and we all feel like superstars because of all your kind words, emails, texts, tweets etc. We will do our best to make you all proud!
Thanks for reading!
More info/results HERE.