Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Valley Of The Sun Round 2

Hello everyone,

What a weekend! It felt like we were gone longer than 4 days. We endured rain, traffic, Denny's, racing, more traffic, Olive Garden, cold, more racing, sun, even more racing, and Carrow's, but somehow we all returned with smiles on our faces!

The Valley of the Sun Stage race was very well run and well attended. Most of the fields were big and strong with riders from all over the west.

We show up for the TT on Friday expecting clear sunny Arizona weather, and instead we get cold drizzily "Pine Flat" like weather. Thank goodness we brought the trailer or we all would've been cold and wet. But the "Chicken Coop" worked great and allowed the racers who weren't riding to stay warm and relaxed and warm-up under the awning out of the rain. I probably shouldn't call it rain it was more like a light drizzle just for the early part of the day, and wasn't really a factor during the race. Everyone rode well with no mishaps except for Brian Bermudes flatting at mile 10 of the relatively flat 15 mile course. But he rode the rim the last 5 miles and finished the race. Brett Harrison pulled out a 10th in the Cat 5's, Kimberly Turner rode to a strong 15th in the 3's and I managed a 6th place in the 3's. The main thing we all learned on the first day was that the fields were deep and we knew the racing was going to be tough.

After the TT we drove through 2 hours worth of Phoenix traffic to get back to our hotel. Then we waited for 40 minutes to get a table at the local Olive Garden. Fortunately, our waitress...Carla, inspite of her chain-smoker appearance, did a fine job and we left tired but full, and went straight to bed.

For Saturdays road race we awoke to clear but cool skies. We had to wake up early again to get Gabe, Brain, and Brett to their 7:45am start. The course was a 16 mile loop with one big ring climb and the finish at the top of the climb. There were several crashes in the early races. Luckily, none of our riders were injured although Jill Gass of the Kalyra Team did injure her wrist in a crash and was unable to continue. Hopefully, other riders can give you blow by blow accounts of their races. I can only tell you about the 3's race with me Corey, Blingerman, and David Larsen. Our race was 4.5 laps with KOM time bonuses for the top 3 places at the top of the climb on laps 2 and 4. The first time up the climb was relatively tame but the 2nd time was insane with everyone going for the time bonus sprint. Corey put in a nice pull to get me up to the lead group but I only managed 4th, wasting a hard effort for nothing. Larsen's lingering chest cold finally got the better of him and he was forced to abandon. On the fourth lap I squeeked out 2nd in the KOM sprint for a 10 second bonus. Which boosted my confidence. On the last lap Blinger was riding well and I was trying to hang on his wheel. About 1K from the finish I crossed wheels with another rider, almost went down, and lost contact with Craigs wheel. Craig was just starting to wind it up for the sprint when there was a 3 or 4 rider crash right in front of him that took him out of contention I got past the crash clean but was too far back to do anything and ended up 15th. The pace of the race was pretty darn hard and even though it was a hilltop finish we still had 43 riders left in the lead group at the end! Lots of strong guys.

After cleaning up at the hotel we got a local tip on a good pizza and pasta place called NYPD. It was just what the doctor ordered. I think we each ordered two entrees and a couple appetizers because the bill was more than Olive Garden the night before. But we went to bed happy.

For the criterium the weather was perfect and the location was very cool as well. A sort of figure 8 loop around the State Capital. The pace was blistering right from the gun and it was very difficult to maintain position at the front of the peloton. I was actually glad the pace was high 'cause after the RR I had moved up to 5th on GC and I didn't want there to be any breakaways that might jepordize my podium spot. On the last lap I was making my move up the back straightaway before the final corner but I couldn't quite get to the front and got sqeezed on the inside of the final corner and lost my chance to sprint so I crossed the line in 32nd place. Nothin' to write home about, but I did maintain my 5th place in GC so I got to get on the podium and I won a whopping $110.00. Of course I spent all $110.00 on chicken fajita sandwiches right after the race 'cause I was starving. Blinger rode well in the crit and finished in the top 20. I was amazed to see that of the 83 riders that started the crit, not one got dropped, and there were no crashes!

Warning! The rest of this email is rated PG-13 by the email ratings association!

A few people got new nicknames on this trip. Brett Harrison became known as the "Human Plunger" 'cuz he clogged the hotel toilet.......twice. Apparently, even though he only weighs 126 lbs. he packs quite a whallop!

Gabriel Garcia, who already earned the nickname "Naughty Pine" on another road trip added the name "#4" to his list. Moments before his crit race he came to the trailer and informed all of us that he had just returned from the porta-johns and had gone #4. We were all in shock because I was only aware of the first three types of potty breaks and had no idea what going "#4" entailed. Then he shouted "Damn, I think I left my gloves in there!" Now we were all intrigued. It seems that going #4 also requires the use of riding gloves and we imagined that wearing your helmet while in the porta-john probably wouldn't be such a bad idea either. We found out later that what he meant to say was that he was going #2.... for the 4th time. But it was too late. The damage had been done, and we couldn't stop picturing Gabe in the porta-john with his helmet and gloves on going.....#4. You'll notice that in one of the pictures all of the passengers in Craig's car are holding up 4 fingers in a kind of freeway salute to Gabe's new moniker. When they did that I started laughing so hard I almost went #4 in my pants!

Corey Welles will now forever be known as Cora-lee Welles because the announcer at the criterium couldn't seem to pronounce an unusual name like Corey and instead replaced it with the extremely common name....Cora-lee.

Kimberly Turner could either be called "Pinner" or "Snow White". "Pinner" because she made the mistake of being skilled at pinning on race numbers and was soon in high demand. Or maybe it was because we're all a little homophobic and we were just more comfortable bending over in lycra for a girl rather than one of the other guys? And "Snow White" because as the only girl on the trip she was kinda like a princess traveling around with 7, forty year old dwarfs. Granted, 7 rather good looking dwarfs!

I think David Larsen could now be known as "Pillow-boy" because he has a curious system for attaching his race numbers to his jersey. He slips the jersey over a pillow and then tapes a picture of the back of Blingerman's head to the pillow......after sleeping with the pillow for one night he is then ready to pin his number on the jersey. It's an unusual system to be sure, but he swears by it. You'll notice in the photos that we took a picture of the back of Larsen's head for Craig to use when pinning on his race number next time.

The last story involves Brian Bermudes A.K.A. silent Bob. During the drive home we were all anxious to get back and wanted to keep stops to a minimum. Silent Bob being a team player didn't want to slow us down with something as trivial as a bathroom break so he took it upon himself to empty out a Crystal Geyser water jug and use that as a portable urinal if you will. The funny part is that he felt it was necessary to completely remove his trousers to accomplish this. He was sitting next to Cora-Lee Welles as he was trying to complete this difficult task. Cora-Lee was trying to be helpful and was holding up a sweatshirt to give Brian some privacy. I couldn't figure out why Cora-Lee felt like it was OK for him to see Brian with his pants off, but not Gabe and I? At any rate Gabe quickly pulled down the sweatshirt and snapped a picture so that we could share the moment with the entire team. Of course when we told the passengers in Craig's car what had just transpired they didn't believe us, so Brian felt compelled to hold up the Crystal Geyser water jug as evidence of his accomplishment. Naturally he had to reach across Cora-Lee to stick the jug out the window and Cora-Lee acted like Brian was holding a live grenade with the pin pulled because he had forgotten to put the lid back on. We all had a good laugh and I have to admit it did save us time and it made the drive home much more interesting. But I don't think I'll be able to drink water from a Crystal Geyser water jug any time soon.

Can't wait 'till the next race!

See ya out there!


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good write-up Matt. That's about how it went down. Remember, if the porta-john is shaking violently don't knock, someone is going #4 inside---Runnnnnnn!