I have, like, a lot to talk about because it’s been a while. *remember to insert that shitty Staind song from 2003*
Well, for one, here are some excuses. First excuse is about why I haven’t been posting and at first I just wanted to take a pause because I…moved to a new city! Second excuse is that I let my domain registration lapse and I kept putting the renewal on the backburner. So my brother transferred the domain and I setup a Google Domain transfer. And now, here we are, back for talk therapy.
As I mentioned, I moved from Kansas City at the beginning of March for a wide variety of reasons.
- My parents live on Beaver Lake in Northwest Arkansas. Over the last 10 years, I haven’t been able to spend a whole lot of time with them and every time I visited it was a great time. Lately, they have been talking about eventually moving to Florida and I know if they move to Florida we won’t get to see each other but twice a year.
- Every time that I would come visit, I would usually bring my bike and go on group rides with friends in Northwest Arkansas and lament about how much I enjoyed riding here and wanted to live here. Eventually, my friends coaxed me enough and I got a benefit offer from a local developing team, Bentonville Racing. it seemed like our objectives and ideals were in line and it would be a good fit.
- I’m a web designer, so staying in one place isn’t that necessary.
- I’m also an Airbnb host, and I really wanted be a host for cyclist. With Northwest Arkansas’s burgeoning mountain bike scene, it was a no brainer that I could start to really see that as a reality.
- I really appreciate how much the city of Bentonville and Northwest Arkansas in general reinvests back into it’s community with outdoor activities and arts and culture.
- Kansas City was starting to feel stagnant, to be honest. I had been living there for 6.5 years and no doubt enjoyed my time and my friends, but started to feel the itch to move and start again. When opportunity knocks, you either answer the door or just wonder if you should answer the door.
- I had a personal relationship that I needed physical distance from.
It was a lot to take in and contemplate. There was a lot of risk involved, but I had some really good ideas on how to mitigate the risk and make the move easier. The process of moving definitely messed up training schedule leading into the Joe Martin Stage Race, which was really unfortunate and created a lot of anxiety. One of my biggest races of the year and I may not even have the fitness that I needed to compete well. It turns out that it wouldn’t even matter. I also decided to commit to Tour of the Gila (which proceeds Joe Martin by two weeks) at the beginning of last year.
A few weeks before moving, I went to a team camp with GP Velotek at Mt Magazine, Arkansas. The year before was a blast and I didn’t want to miss out again, so I became a Velotek club member. This year was really foggy instead of being super cold. I had a 1 hour power personal best of 352 watts climbing up the North side of Mt. Magazine (missed the KOM by only 26 seconds) and set some PRs on the south side while having a really good time with my old teammates. I also rode my first century!
I kept positive spirits and thought about all of the long, winding roads I was going to ride in Arkansas before Joe and Gila. Confidence is a helluva performance enhancing drug. I had some really good rides after I got settled in and training consistently. It was almost like I tapered for my move to Arkansas. I picked up a mountain bike before I left town, too! It’s a 2013 Niner Air 9 RDO with SRAM XXO and a Rockshox SID fork. It’s a beastly hardtail that’s meant to tear up single track XC trail, which is perfect for Arkansas trails.
Before Joe came, we did a road race in Skiatook, Oklahoma that a decent bit of climbing and good competition. There were quite a few early attacks and surges, but nothing really stuck. I got in a couple of the attacks and even chased down a couple of breaks. The last attack actually happened after chasing down a break, a couple of the guys kept going and the peloton let us slip away. We quickly got organized with 7 miles to go. We were holding a really high pace and even started seeing some of our gang dying. We held it together all the way to the finishing hill where I went early and had a good lead, but got nipped at the line. It felt good to start the season off with a podium. Somehow, with my second place that day, I also got 2nd in the omnium for the weekend, despite not riding the day before, so we made some $$, too.
Joe weekend came fast, and while I was nervous, I knew there wasn’t much else I could do to prepare anymore at this point. I got to the time trial course Saturday morning at what I thought was a reasonable amount of time to get ready and warmed up, even lugging along my gigantic trainer. I set up my alarms and when it went off, I quickly got ready and rode towards the start line. I got a little ways away from my car and went back to grab a GEL. A stupid fucking gel that would not have made any difference. When I got to the start line, they had already called my name, so technically my TT had already started. I was about 45 seconds late–which is everything in a short, hill climb TT. I rode so hard for that first half, like way harder than I had planned, but I was anxious and angry. I ended up with a 9:18 (13th) and lost the TT by 45 seconds exactly. Luckily, my teammate Chad was in 2nd, only 11 seconds down from the GC. The road race was later that day and I helped reel in a break with the GC leader that was gone for 30 miles of the road race. I didn’t have any finishing power, but luckily my teammate Jared did and he won the road race. The downtown criterium was a hard fight with big surges and ripping corners that the GC leader ended up winning. By the time the weekend was over I had moved up two spots on the GC to 11th, Chad got 3rd and Jared got 10th. It was an okay turnout, but we all knew we had the firepower to have two people up on that podium. I learned a really hard lesson in being on time and being prepared.
The important thing about racing is that you can’t let the stink hang on you. Bad weekend? Tough luck, there is going to be another weekend with good luck. Gila was in a week and a half, it was time to wipe the slate clean and focus on the future.
Gila was an 18 hour drive, 5500 ft of elevation, and a 5 day stage race. It would be radically different than any other race I had ever done. The first stage was a road race and we let a two man break get away. At the bottom of the main climb they were 1:30 up the road and by the end we had closed the gap down to 25 seconds. On day 2, there was a hard early climb that I pushed a lot of and we shed about half the field. We descended on a very technical, crappy road and I almost lost the group. In the valley we brought back one break and then I somehow ended up in a break with a really good junior and the guy who was 2nd in the GC. We worked hard back and forth, and eventually dropped the guy in 2nd on the GC because he was too tired from the day before. The junior ended up dropping me on the final climb, winning by 3 minutes and I hung onto 2nd place by an extra 3 minutes. I had moved into 2nd place on the GC with a good amount of cushion. I rode the time trial the next day Merckx style and ended up in 10th, but still kept my 2nd place in the GC. Stayed safe in the stage 4 downtown Silver City, New Mexico criterium and had no change in GC. The last day was Sunday and it was going to be a monster. There was an early move 6 miles in to the stage and then we let two teams that had guys in the breaks control the pace. By the time we had hit the bottom of the finishing climb, we were over 9 minutes down from the break. That was honestly the most I’ve ever hurt during a race. It was a sustained climb with a dip in the middle. At one point, someone took a corner too hot and slid out, taking out the guy in front of me and myself. I immediately got back up and chased on with another crasher, but it was too late. The GC was shook up and I got bumped to 4th with two of the guys in the break taking 2nd and 3rd. I was a bit disappointed with a tactical error, but still super thrilled with my overall fitness and performance. Our times climbing that day were in the top 30 for all classes, including pros. I felt on top of the world.
The next weekend was Velotek Grand Prix. The time trial was too short to be in my power wheelhouse, so I finished 8th. I threw out a big attack on the last 5 laps of the criterium, but got pulled back, so it was a pack finish. On the 2 lap road race, I knew I would have to do some hard work be able to make up spots. After cresting the finishing climb on the first lap, a junior and I kept pushing to a 2 man break up the road. We worked together well and kept the pace high. In the last 6 miles we dropped the two we picked up and it was just going to be a head to head finish for the junior and I. In the end, I made and early move and kept it for the win, my first of this season. I even moved up into 2nd place on the GC, so an excellent weekend after Gila.
The following weeks were really good. I set a new personal power best for 20 minutes (385w), 5 minutes (488w), and 1 minute (701w). It had been roughly a year since I had seen improvements. I’ve put on a little more weight since then, but it’s still a higher watt per kilogram ratio. I had a really good century on my birthday, averaging around 265w for 5 hours (I didn’t catch the first hour).
I’ll start another post for my Oklahoma adventures.