August 07, 2011 (Chicago, IL ) – To date the Tour of Elk Grove is the biggest race I have ever participated in. As we warmed up and pre-rode the TT course on Friday I was blown away but how big production the race was. There were stages, big screens and advertising everywhere. Not only is the prize money big, the entire event is a big!! It’s quite the production. So big that they had a mobile McDonalds on site! With 16 teams and 120 riders I knew going in that this was going to be can’t-miss event, a very hard weekend of racing, and one incredible experience.
The first stage was a 7km prologue and let me tell you it was tough – tough to prepare for in many different ways. You can train all you want but it’s very hard to prepare for the physical pain that is coming your way during a TT. It never gets any easier and when you’re at an event of this level you need to dig deeper than you ever have before or your going to be embarrassed.
Just to give you an idea of how hard I went, I still have a cough going from my stretched lungs and the ride was four hrs ago. It is also really hard to prepare for getting beat badly and knowing you gave it everything you had. Knowing you’ve been beat while at your best is painful. Back home in Ontario I feel like I’m a pretty good time trialist. I run a weekly series in Stouffville and I race it pretty much every other week having some pretty good success. At the O-cup level I’m a podium contender but there are a few guys in the field that can win on any given day.
I went down to Elk Grove thinking I might be able to get a top 15 or 20 and win some money with the way I’ve been riding as of late. I have had a few short TT’s around the 47km/hour mark and I thought that just might be good enough to be competitive down here. Likely you can already tell from what I have written so far things didn’t go as planned. I was one of the last to go and for the first time in my life I had a follow car during the TT.
The first 500-600 meters hurt way more than normal and right away I was worried that I’d been beaten before I even got into the meat of the TT. I did get on top of the gear after the first turn but never felt comfortable which I thought meant I was flying. If you’re not in pain your not going fast right? I cranked out a big gear while the guys behind me honked the horn and rev’d the engine to pump me up. When I finished I really thought I had gone pretty good, but the first thing out of my mouth to the team was… “I’m sorry guys”.
I don’t ride with anything on my bike so other than knowing that I gave it everything I had I had no idea what kind of time I pulled off. I just knew that my everything today wasn’t likely going to be enough. I couldn’t have gone any harder so I was happy knowing I’d emptied the tank and left it all on the road but my gut still told me that I wasn’t at my best.
I got the results sheet from the timer and quickly skimmed down looking for my name on the first sheet. Not there? I skim it again a little slower this time and ask Sean Kelly to look over my shoulder and look too. The top 30 guys are on the sheet and my name isn’t there. I flip the page and go almost to the bottom before I see my teammate Matteo Del Cin in 54th with a time of 8:59. Two spots later I see my name at 3 one hundredths of a second back of Teo with 8:59.
Let me tell you seeing 56th place hurt. I killed myself for almost nine mins only to get beat by 55 other guys. The crazy part is the winner Karl Menzies (United Health Care) got me by 30+ seconds… on a 7km course? Not the start I was hoping for down here in Elk Grove but I all I can hope for is a solid day at the road race tomorrow (Saturday) to make up for a pretty mediocre day today.